Pushes legislation to legalize Mixed Martial Arts
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams got into the ring on Tuesday to declare his support for professional mixed martial arts (MMA).
MMA fighters combine different combat styles, such as boxing, Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. Despite its growing popularity across the United States, New York is the only state where the bouts, often violent and bloody, are illegal.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a major MMA organization with superstars like Ronda Rousey, is pushing NYS legislation that will permit the fights. A bill to authorize MMA and allow for regulation by the New York State Athletic Commission has been passed in the state Senate but still needs approval in the Assembly.
Millions of fans follow the sport online and on pay-per-view. And Brooklyn wants a piece of the action.
“Brooklyn stands to benefit greatly from legalizing and regulating MMA, a decision that will result in significant economic activity and a safer practice of the sport,” Adams said in a statement.
MMA would generate an estimated $135 million each year for New York State’s economy, in addition to $5.4 million in state and local revenues, he said.
“The County of Kings is ready to crown professional MMA champions in a regulated setting where everyone comes out a winner,” Adams said. “The business community supports MMA, editorial boards from across the state support MMA, the State Senate and Governor Cuomo support MMA, and everyday New Yorkers support MMA.”
Adams made the announcement at Barclays Center alongside Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
“More than anything else, fans are telling us they want MMA and it’s time to deliver,” Yormark said. “We would be thrilled to host UFC at Barclays Center, and soon, the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Not only does UFC further our goal of being in the big event business, it helps drive economic activity in the area.”
“Legalizing MMA in New York State would create yet another world-class tourist attraction in Brooklyn, resulting in additional visitors and an increase in revenue for our borough,” Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “When Barclays Center is full, our restaurants, bars, shops and other small businesses are also full, which helps them expand and create more jobs.”
According to Assembly bill 2604C, the legislation provides “essential increases” in the insurance limits and financial guarantees required to protect boxers and mixed martial artists. It increases by nearly 700 percent the amount of coverage available to fighters for medical expenses associated with injuries sustained in the ring. It also enacts $1,000,000 in insurance coverage in cases where fighters sustain life-threatening brain injuries (the language of the legislation calls that “rare.”).
The bill also establishes a study to help develop a funding mechanism for providing lifetime care to fighters suffering degenerative brain diseases resulting from injuries sustained in the ring.
Another bill has been introduced in the Assembly to put a two-year moratorium on professional MMA bouts, however. The purpose is to allow the state to study the health impacts of repetitive head injuries.