After 19 years of banning a combat endeavor that evolved into a viable sport long ago, the State of New York voted today to lift the 1997 ban on MMA competitions.
Here’s the UFC’s statement on the issue:
UFC® Applauds Overwhelming, Bipartisan Support in NY State Assembly as Bill to Legalize and Regulate Professional MMA Passes 113-25
Lorenzo Fertitta Thanks Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Morelle & All Sponsors and Supporters
Albany –UFC® Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Fertitta applauded the overwhelming, bipartisan New York State Assembly passage of legislation to legalize and regulate professional mixed martial arts (MMA) in New York. The passage of A.2604-C, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle and 72 other Assembly sponsors, means the bill has now passed both houses and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his approval.
Fertitta stated: “This has been a long time coming and on behalf of our New York UFC athletes and fans, I want to offer heartfelt thanks to Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Morelle and all the Members of the Assembly – Democrats and Republicans – who voted for this bill.
“Joe Morelle has worked tirelessly to educate his colleagues and build support for legalizing professional MMA and regulating both professional and amateur MMA. He has worked closely with Senator Joe Griffo, who has shepherded this effort in the Senate, where the bill has passed with strong bipartisan support for the last seven years, and MMA fans owe both a huge debt of gratitude,” Fertitta said.
Fertitta noted all the support the bill has garnered over the last several years.
“New York’s amazing arenas – upstate and downstate – have worked with us to advocate passage of this bill. So, too, have restaurants, hotels, businesses and others who recognize the economic value professional MMA can bring to New York,” Fertitta said. “Our athletes have been extraordinary. More than 20 have been to Albany to help educate legislators about the fastest growing sport in the world. And our fans have been phenomenal. Through letters and phone calls, rallies and social media, New York’s MMA and UFC fans have lent their voices of support. It took a while, but their voices have been heard.”
UFC has committed to holding at least four events per year in New York for the first three years after professional MMA is legalized and regulated in New York. Fertitta renewed that commitment.
“While there are still additional steps that have to occur before professional MMA becomes a reality in New York, I want to assure our fans that if Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law and the State Athletic Commission puts in place the appropriate regulations, we look forward to hosting our first New York event in the world’s most famous arena – Madison Square Garden, home to so many epic sporting events throughout the decades,” Fertitta said. “We also look forward to scheduling events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and Brooklyn. We are excited.”
Jon Jones at Madison Square Garden, anyone?