The fight is over.
After two decades of being the only state not to host Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), New York is finally on board and ready to rumble. On Thursday, April 14, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to authorize the popular league, Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) that had been legal in the other 49 states.
“It was a long time coming, but it happened and good things are worth the wait,” said Cuomo. “We used to chat about it coming to New York. And speaking as a prideful New Yorker with a tad of New York arrogance, I think this really completes the journey for MMA.”
“This is a great day for UFC and an even greater day for New York’s MMA athletes and fans,” added UFC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Fertitta. “UFC is committed to having a major presence in New York over the next few years.”
“I know this is a huge day for my fellow athletes from New York but this is also a big day for every professional MMA athlete from across the globe. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” added Ronda Rousey, former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion
Last month, the New York State Assembly approved the legislation legalizing MMA, which then awaited Cuomo’s signature. “I supported it, but it had to wind its way through the legislative process, which could sometimes be circuitous,” Cuomo said.
Local elected officials who have been in favor of legalizing the sport chimed in on the decision. “It’s an exciting moment for New York fans as we join the rest of the nation in legalizing the sport. This will help jump-start our state’s economy, attract tourism, create jobs and bring in additional tax revenue,” said Assemblymember Pam Harris.
“Not only are there economic benefits for the state, but the most important benefit is safety for those competing,” added Assemblymember Joseph Lentol. “I believe once other states adopted MMA and legislators saw that it could be efficiently regulated, as was the case with boxing, they were more comfortable discussing this sport.”
“It’s long overdue that this great economic engine and sport initiative should find its home in the largest arena possible, and that is in Brooklyn, New York City and New York State,” Borough President Eric Adams said during a February press conference at Barclays Center.
Some are opposed to legalizing the sport due to its violent nature. However, under the proposal, the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) would be given more authority to oversee all combative sports, including boxing, wrestling and kickboxing.
“We believe we added precautions that will make the sport a better sport. We have more health coverage, more insurance coverage,” Cuomo added. “The State Athletic Commission is going to expand in size so we’ll have experts in MMA who will be on the State Athletic Commission and will be in a position to properly regulate it.”
Once at full programming capacity, MMA is projected to yield more than $137 million in economic activity in New York State.
The first UFC event in New York will be held at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 12. Barclays Center is also expected to host several events in the future.