Measure Receives Senate Approval for the Sixth Consecutive Year to Allow

the State to Sanction and Regulate Professional MMA Events

The New York State Senate today passed legislation for the sixth
consecutive year to legalize and regulate mixed martial arts (MMA)
competitions in New York, removing a 1997 statewide ban on the sport.

The bill (S2159), sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), would
authorize professional competitions in New York State and give the State
Athletic Commission jurisdiction to regulate professional mixed martial
arts promotions, participants, bouts, and exhibitions.

Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “The Senate has again
acted to strengthen our economy and create jobs by legalizing and
regulating mixed martial arts in New York. It’s time for the Assembly to
finally take up this important bill so that New York can join every other
state in recognizing the economic potential of MMA events.”

Senator Griffo has repeatedly called to lift the ban on professional
mixed martial arts events.

During the debate, opponents pointed to fears of brain damage from concussions.

“People who don’t know better…ppl who don’t know the [brain] damage they are causing,” argued Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).

Another MMA opponent, Sen. Brad Hoyland (D-Manhattan) said that the bill was more concerned about “balls than brains.” Bronx Democrats Gustavo Rivera and Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., as well as Michael Gianaris (Queens), Kevin Parker and Jesse Hamilton, Jr. (Brooklyn) voted aye.

New York is the only state in the nation that prohibits professional
MMA events. The sport continues to grow in popularity in the state due to
amateur bouts and an increase in the number of MMA competitors hailing from
New York.

The Senate has led the bipartisan efforts to bring MMA to New York by
passing legislation each year since 2010. Legalizing MMA was also part of
the Senate’s 2015-16 budget resolution. In the past, the Assembly has
refused to put the bill to a vote, despite studies that have projected
significant economic benefits.

A 2013 study reported that legalizing professional MMA would
potentially generate $68 million annually in New York from MMA events, $33
million of which would be generated in upstate cities. In addition,
training centers could generate $67 million each year from operations, for
a total of $135 million in economic activity annually in the state.

The Griffo bill would help ensure the safety and welfare of professional
combative sports participants by establishing the New York State Athletic
Commission as the recognized authority to properly regulate bouts.
Participants would be required to undergo a comprehensive physical
examination, including a clinical neurological and neurophysical exam, in
order to obtain or renew a license from the State Athletic Commission.

“Allowing the New York State Athletic Commission to regulate these
MMA matches would offer the best possible setting, experience, and safety
for fighters and fans alike,” Senator Griffo said.

The bill passed 47-14 and has been sent to the Assembly.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email