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Battle to Bring MMA to New York Ends in Submission

Eric Kowal
08 May 2012
New York MMA - US Combat Sports

Mixed martial arts is currently the fastest growing sport on the planet. It is virtually impossible to not have ever seen some form of sanctioned event somewhere whether it be on television or the internet.

And while you can walk down the New York streets of Times Square and gaze up at a large billboard promoting the next big fight brought to you by the UFC, you still cannot watch an event hosted in the Empire State.

How is it possible that MMA is legally sanctioned virtually in every state in the United States except the obvious one?

Some of the biggest matches in boxing history have taken place inside of Madison Square Garden but mixed martial arts is still on the arena's bucket list because legislation still does not allow the sport to make an appearance.

New York state's Sheldon Silver is the Assembly Speaker and serves as the Assemblyman for District 64. Silver told the New York Daily News yesterday, "It (the bill) will not come to the floor this year. I think it's evolving. I don't think two years ago it was a 50-50 proposition."

Micah Kellner, a Democratic Assemblyman from Manhattan is for the legalization of mixed martial arts in the state and expressed his frustration with the ruling. "This is legal in [most] states, it's highly regulated and it generates economic activities for small business and creates much needed revenue for the state."

Silver has a history of opposing the bill and according to Marc Ratner, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the UFC, the bill never even made it to the floor for a vote at the Assembly Democratic conference yesterday.

After eight people had spoken in favor of legalizing mixed martial arts and eight were against it, Silver called on members who oppose the bill to raise their hands. Around 25 members did.

Apparently, Silver then asked who was in favor of it and about half raised their hands. For Silver that was enough to say it was split and to move on to the next topic. He chose not to give an official vote the time of day.

"I feel 150% if we had a vote on the floor of the Assembly we would win," Ratner said. "Not to get a vote is un-American."

An Assemblywoman from Queens, N.Y., Aravella Simotas, was in favor of the sport receiving a vote and actually downplayed one of the stereotypes associated with MMA, that it promotes violence.

"Mixed martial arts is an art form," she said. "I don't believe there is inherent violence in it."

Of course there were those like Silver oppose the bill such as longtime Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari who called mixed martial arts a "barbaric exercise." I guess that sounds better than when John McCain called it "human cockfighting".

The UFC and Ratner head the fight in bringing MMA to New York but their struggles will continue at least for now or while Silver is still appointed speaker.

Last Modified:
08 May 2012

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