Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York

I enjoy mixed martial arts or MMA. The growing sport is competitive and exciting. Many NYC bars, like McCann's here in Astoria,  swell with patrons when UFC Pay-Per-Views run.

Recently, there has been considerable discussion about legalizing MMA in New York. Assemblyman David Englebright is the chief sponsor of the bill to legalize MMA, which has support in many quarters, including that of state athletic commissioner Melvina Lathan.

Joining the argument against the legalization of MMA is the NY Times Editorial board. I am disappointed in the Times, not for choosing a position I disagree with, but for doing so with such poor research to back up their claims. They quote John McCain's infmaous "human cockfighting" comment from years back, and Albany Assemblyman Bob Reilly's weak arguments. What they insist to be the most damning evidence that MMA is unsafe are the very contested findings of the British Medical Association, which is attempting to have both boxing and MMA banned. However, while relying on the BMA's claims, they stop short of calling for an end to boxing as well.

Boxing is, after all, part of the history of New York City, and thus the NY Times. They even sell a book on the subject. MMA is an upstart sport and easier to condemn without actually taking a close look. Those damn kids and their rock & roll! Seriously. Maybe the editorial board should start their research with some of the articles which have appeared in their own paper.

Justin Porter wrote about high school MMA program in Winchester, MA which is decidedly positive. Michael Schwartz turned in a solid piece on MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko just this past week.

MMA experts on Fanhouse tee off on the Times Editorial Board here.

MMA is on the rise. It is a strong PPV and arena draw. MMA cards at Madison Square Garden would draw significant money and in this economy, NYC needs whatever new revenue streams it can find. Englebright's bill calls for the state to take 10% of all MMA gate revenue (UFC gates have ranged between 2.5 and 5 million dollars). The state has numerous MMA gyms, whose fighters must all travel out of state for professional competition. They could be competing on smaller, local shows if it were legal to do so. New York should be at the forefront of a new sport, not naysaying with poorly contructed arguments. Let the best in the world come to New York City to compete in MMA as in other sports, arts and industries. That's what we're here for.

But... If you're going to argue against MMA, at least do your homework.

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