Will MMA Become Legal In New York?

By on May 29, 2013

New York is on the cutting edge on a lot of things, but the state has been lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to allowing mixed martial arts matches.

While you can take MMA classes in New York, like kickboxing in NYC, you cannot actually go see a professional MMA match in the state.

This, even though boxing and wrestling are allowed in the state.

MMA has been Banned for Over 15 years in New York

New York banned MMA in 1997, back when the discipline seemed dangerous, and something very rough.

It was the Wild West days of the sport, in a sense, and the state’s lawmakers were concerned about the lack of rules.

Since then, mixed martial arts has gone mainstream – even suburban moms are doing the sport.

And it has continued to grow and explode in popularity on both the amateur and professional level, making many billions of dollars for the UFC.

MMA is something that draws eyeballs throughout the country – there is a reason that Fox Sports paid the UFC 700 million dollars the rights to air the sport.

Fans throughout the country are getting into watching MMA; it is arguably one of the younger generation’s most popular sports.

And more and more people from all walks of life are learning MMA skills; most cities and towns, whether big or small, have at least one MMA studio.

And as of 2013, most of the states allow professional MMA matches.

Yet two states don’t – New York and Connecticut – but Connecticut actually has, via MMA matches at the Native American-owned casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which is not covered under the ban.

Of course, plenty of people learn Muay Thai in New York, kickboxing in NYC, and other disciplines, and amateur matches are okay. But the sport is still against the law in New York.

New York’s State Legislature is Considering Legalizing MMA

Now people in the state of New York are trying to change that. State legislators are considering legalizing MMA.

Governor Andrew Cuomo may reportedly sign a bill if he is given one to sign by the end of the legislative session in June.  Whether he will get one is an open question.

There are many good reasons to allow MMA in New York – it can create many, many millions of dollars of economic activity into the state.

UFC head Lorenzo Fertitta has been arguing that just in the first two years of legalization, it could result in $100 million of money into the state.

The UFC CEO has an ally in NYC & Company, the top tourism agency in NYC.

Bryan Grimaldi, chief operating officer, writes that “From a New York City tourism perspective, legalization (of MMA) would allow NYC & Company to continue its work expanding the city’s portfolio of sporting attractions,

which already includes Wrestlemania 29, the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Super Bowl XLVIII.”

He said that “with the newly renovated Madison Square Garden and the recently opened Barclays Center, New York City should prove to be a very attractive destination for MMA organizations.”

The bill to pass MMA in New York has passed the state senate and is under consideration with the state assembly.

However, some people, most notably religious leaders, in New York are lobbying against the legislation. So it is unclear if the assembly will pass the bill by the end of the session.

In the meantime, you can still learn MMA in New York. To find out about classes, including kickboxing in NYC, click here.

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Lisa Swan writes for sites who cover a variety of topics. She lives in New York City.

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