by Kevin Iole of Las Vegas Review-Journal
Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review-Journal breaks the story that Marc Ratner is leaving the Nevada State Athletic Commission to go to the UFC. Article courtesy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Marc Ratner, the widely respected executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, resigned Thursday to accept a lucrative three-year contract from the Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Ratner, who has been with the commission since 1985 and was appointed full-time executive director in 1992, called the offer “an extraordinary opportunity for my family.” His last day with the athletic commission will be May 13.

“I love the commission and I love working for the state, and so from that standpoint, this was a very difficult decision,” said Ratner, who will be a vice president for the UFC. “The commission has been such a huge part of my life for so long. But I had to think of my family and this offer was amazing.”

UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said Ratner, 61, will be involved in all aspects of the operation. He will concentrate on regulatory issues and dealing with state athletic commissions.

The UFC recently was sanctioned in California, making it the 20th state where mixed martial arts fights are regulated.

Fertitta, who was a member of the athletic commission and developed a close bond with Ratner, said the hire is significant for his company.

“Obviously, Marc’s reputation is impeccable and his knowledge is first-rate, and people like that are the kinds of people we want working for us,” Fertitta said. “He’s very knowledge about mixed martial arts and he’s one of the most knowledgeable guys anywhere about combat sports, and MMA is a combat sport.

“He adds a lot of value to our company. Our business is literally exploding and we’ve had to bring in a number of key senior-level executives to catch up with the demand the company is putting upon us.”

Commission chairman Skip Avansino, who was a college classmate of Ratner’s at UNR, said Ratner will be difficult to replace.

Avansino praised Ratner for his dedication to the commission and to the sports he regulated. Avansino said few, if any, regulators are held in as high esteem as Ratner is.

“There just aren’t a lot of Marc Ratners walking around out there,” Avansino said. “I wish there were, because then it wouldn’t be such a big task to replace him. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement, but Marc has a wonderful opportunity with a very successful and growing company.

“He’s been a marvelous leader for this commission as executive director and we’ll miss him terribly. It’s going to be a daunting task to replace him, but we’re going to put a process into place to come as close as we can to getting someone of his caliber.”

Ratner played a large role in writing the rules the commission adopted that allowed the UFC to promote in Nevada beginning in 2001.

In its early days, the UFC was a “no holds barred” organization with virtually no rules. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it barbaric and campaigned to have it outlawed.

But Ratner worked with the Association of Boxing Commissions to develop a standard set of rules that helped create the modern UFC.

“(The commission) never could have accepted it in the (no holds barred) days,” Ratner said. “But once there were a defined set of rules and weight classes and such, then it became something that would work for the state.

“There’s always fine-tuning and it’s something I’ll look at every day. How do we make this better and how do we make it safer?”

Ratner’s first day with the UFC will be May 15. There is an April 6 UFC card at the Hard Rock Hotel. Ratner said he would recuse himself from all duties involving that show.