Ending a long battle — and legally allowing many new ones — the State Assembly Tuesday passed a bill ending the ban on mixed martial arts in New York State. If signed into law, New York will be the final state in the union to allow the sport, also known as MMA.
For the first time, the fate of MMA in New York State was debated on the floor of the State Assembly. It was a lengthy argument that had its lighter moments.
"You have two nearly naked hot men rolling around on top of one another trying to dominate each other," said openly gay Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell. "And just in case you don't know that is gay porn with a different ending."
Earlier this year, the State Senate passed a bill legalizing MMA, something it has done several years in a row but the legislation was stiff-armed by then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. But with Silver's removal on federal corruption charges, the bill finally passed.
Supporters, including former allies of Silver, say the sport can provide a boost the upstate economy.
"Yeah, there is no question that MMA has become one of the fastest growing sports in America and it will continue to draw large crowds," said Assembly majority leader Joe Morelle. "There a revenues upstate that are anxious to host contests both professional and amateur."
But critics say the sport is too violent. And some threw doubt on the notion that it will provide a significant economic benefit.
"So, if you have a really big event and pay-per-view broadcast, the state gets $50,000," Manhattan Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. "It seems a little bit paltry."
"Deborah has a right to her own opinion," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "We are the only state that doesn't allow it. And we will see what the financial implications are, the benefit of it. Hopefully, we will be able to hold these matches here in the state. I'm sure there will be a significant economic benefit."
Governor Cuomo has said previously he would sign a bill legalizing MMA. Promoters are already looking ahead, they are hoping to hold the first bout in New York City by the end of the year, but they are also speaking with venues in Buffalo, Rochester and Utica.