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New York Lifts 20-Year MMA Ban
- Updated: March 23, 2016
New York Lifts 20-Year MMA Ban, UFC to finally host events in NY.
After nearly 20 years, New York has finally joined the rest of the country in the MMA mania, after the New York State Assembly had a vote on whether to legalize the sport in the state, a vote which yielded a 113-25 approval on Tuesday.
After then New York State Governor George Pataki banned the sport in 1997, it had been an uphill battle for not only the sport, but for fight fans, as well.
At the time, it was highly unregulated, though, it was gaining incredible popularity, and the UFC was there, providing the entertainment. The fights at that time would often pit martial arts experts against each other, as well as general tough guys would would normally find at local bars, who thought they could go toe to toe with anyone.
With such lax rules, it was no wonder why the ban came about. It wasn’t until the state athletic commissions for Nevada and New Jersey helped in creating new rules for the sport, that it started to gain footing with other states, becoming a legal sport. The only state that held out was NY, and though it was voted on in the state’s Senate over the course of several years, it wasn’t until the assembly convened on the issue, that legalization was made a reality.
There were several assemblymen who spoke about the vote, including Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, who created the bill, though, in the past, voted against the sport being allowed in the state. Said Morelle about his reasoning for supporting the sport’s legalization:
“The sport has evolved considerably in the last two decades.”
Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray also commented on the sport, saying:
“It’s time to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York.”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for MMA, as Governor Cuomo is said to be adding provisions to the state budget this year which would cover MMA costs. Something that pleased many on the UFC.
From fighters, to the co-owner of the UFC, the landmark decision received huge praise after it was made public. Chris Weidman tweeted:
Chris Weidman ✔ @ChrisWeidmanUFC
I’ve waited a long time for today and couldn’t be more excited to have MMA legal in my hometown of New York!!
6:56 PM – 22 Mar 2016
With the bill having already been passed by the Senate and the Assembly, it’s only hurdles are Cuomo signing it into law, which is expected to happen after the state budget has been worked on, and then for the New York State Athletic Commission to set new rules and regulations, which could take upwards of 120 days.
But, after that, it would become fully legal in the state, and the UFC have already started that they are committing to hosting three shows a year in New York in the first three years of the new ruling.
In a statement, UFC co owner Lorenzo Fertitta expressed joy and excitement over the ruling, saying:
“This has been a long time coming and on behalf of our New York UFC athletes and fans, I want to offer heartfelt thanks to Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Morelle and all the Members of the Assembly – Democrats and Republicans – who voted for this bill. I want to assure our fans that if Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law and the State Athletic Commission puts in place the appropriate regulations, we look forward to hosting our first New York event in the world’s most famous arena — Madison Square Garden, home to so many epic sporting events throughout the decades. We also look forward to scheduling events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and Brooklyn. We are excited.”
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Photo by Ryu Voelkel, via Flickr.