Assemblyman Bob Reilly Has No Problem with Amateur MMA
In the debate for the sanctioning of mixed martial arts in the state of New York, State Assemblyman Bob Reilly has been the long-time voice for the opposition. In fact, during a meeting of the New York Bar Association's panel on sports law this month, the Assemblyman was invited to speak on the cons of legalizing MMA as the panel determined whether or not they would support it in the new legislative session.
While few are surprised to see Reilly once again at the forefront as MMA does another round with the New York legislature, many would be shocked to find that professional MMA's loudest opponent has no problem with the sport's amateur incarnation.
"There is certainly room for [MMA] with rules changes," said the Assemblyman. "If people want to practice MMA under amateur rules and do it to get fit and be healthy and experience the competition, I have no problem with that. In fact, I probably support it."
In response to arguments of the benefits competitive MMA could give to its practitioners, Reilly offered little resistance. As a long time athletics coach, Reilly was careful not to let his opposition to the professional MMA rules set muddy his respect for the "great discipline" that codified athletics can impart to young people, especially in the inner city.
Assemblyman Reilly's one issue with MMA lies in certain maneuvers that are legal within the sport's professional rules set that he considers inherently more violent and dangerous. Strikes to the head of a grounded opponent, especially after a knockdown, Reilly considers the most "savage." These strikes are illegal under the amateur rules as practiced in New Jersey.
While Reilly expressed his willingness to compromise on the issue of MMA, he is not hopeful that the aspects of the sport's professional rules that he disapproves of will ever be taken out of the mixed martial arts canon.
"You have to ask yourself why is this sport such a money maker where [other combat sports] are not," Reilly said. "You'll find the answer is because this one is [more] violent."
The Assemblyman went on to say that the primary motivating factor behind putting on professional shows is money, and the presence of that drive will preserve a set of rules that he believes is inherently brutal and unsafe for the participants.
Reilly also noted that he does not disagree with state sanctioning making the sport safer.
"If you have an uncertified fight, is it safer to have a certified fight with trained referees and medical professionals on hand," said Reilly. "Of course."
However, the Assemblyman made it clear that he would not bend on the issue as long as the professional Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts are practiced as they currently stand.