PHOTO: UFC on Tuesday afternoon tweeted its gratitude, along with the familiar #MMA4NY hashtag. Courtesy of the Ultimate Fighting Championship
By Michael V. Cusenza
It would seem that eight is enough.
For the past seven years, bills aimed at lifting the ban on professional mixed martial arts in New York tapped out in the Assembly; the proposed pieces of legislation limping to their deaths in the Lower Chamber had become an annual (non) event.
However, the bell has rung. The bout is over.
MMA is on its way to the Empire State.
In a 113 to 25 vote on Tuesday afternoon, the Assembly voted in favor of rescinding the embargo on professional mixed martial arts.
“We’ve finally delivered a knockout blow to Albany’s prohibition on Mixed Martial Arts,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach), who sponsored legislation in the Assembly last year that would have legalized the sport. “With today’s vote, millions of fans across the state will soon be able to enjoy MMA right in their own backyard. This will make MMA safer for fighters and fans alike, as well as bring millions of dollars to the state and boost economic activity for our local businesses. I’m proud to join Majority Leader Morelle in ending this unnecessary chokehold on a sport that every other state in the country has safely enjoyed for years.”
When New York makes it official, professional MMA events will be sanctioned throughout the U.S.
“With professional MMA already legal in every other state, New York should be able to go forward in regulating these events, reaping the economic benefits of the sport, and placing reasonable and practical safeguards on MMA to protect those who choose to participate in these bouts,” State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said last month, noting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for legalizing MMA this year. “Between tax revenue that would be generated for the state by ticket receipts, and the fiscal boost provided by hosting events and opening new training clubs, legal MMA could have a very positive effect on our economy and job opportunities.”
As Addabbo explained in February, the Senate bill authorizes the State Athletic Commission – which oversees professional boxing – to develop regulations governing the sport; establish licensing procedures and criteria for events and MMA participants; set penalties for rule violations, and create standards to help ensure the health and safety of fighters. These include prohibitions on fighting when participants exhibit signs of head trauma, imposing requirements for protective gear, having physicians at every bout, and requiring fighters to undergo extensive physical and neurological examinations. Accident insurance coverage would also be provided by promoters of professional MMA for participants who are injured, including a $1 million benefit in cases where fighters sustain life-threatening brain injuries. A study would be commissioned on the resources needed to support long-term care for fighters suffering degenerative brain diseases related to their time in the ring.