IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Mixed Martial Arts Fight Begins Anew In Albany - January 29

New York Daily News
By Ken Lovett
January 28, 2014
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Supporters of legalizing the controversial sport of mixed martial arts in New York are fighting to get the sport off the mat in the state Assembly.
 
A contingent of fighters and officials from the Ultimate Fighting Championship league traveled to Albany Tuesday in hopes that 2014 will the year New York joins every other state in authorizing the sport.
 
UFC fighter Uriah Hall, a New York City resident, says he wants to be able to compete in his home state.
“It is frustrating that every other state state is doing it and not us,” Hall said during his lobbying trip to the state Capitol.
 
The state Senate has passed the measure the past several years and Gov. Cuomo has been more open to it if it can be proven it will be an economic driver. The UFC estimates legalization in New York would generate $135 million in economic activity.
 
The trouble has been in the state Assembly. While support in the chamber has been growing in recent years, it failed last year largely because of opposition of many of female members who believe the sport is barbaric and glorifies violence against women.
 
UFC fighter Liz Carmouche, 29, of San Diego, said she there is sexism in the opposition.
 
“In society, it’s hard for some to view women getting hit,” Carmouche said during a break at the Capitol.

“They see the women as different figures rather than as athletes and fighters.”
 
She equated it to the changing societal attitudes toward women in the military.
 
But opponents aren’t buying it.
 
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Manahattan), one of the most vocal opponents of legalization of mixed martial arts, said she’s not opposed because women can’t fight, but because she believes it sends a bad message to young people of both genders.
 
“There’s always risks in a lot of different sports…but the goal of this alleged sport is to beat someone up and I cant’ support that,” Glick said.
 
A group represented by Metropolitan Public Strategies linked the recent sexual harassment scandals in the Assembly to the MMA issue.
 
“After a year of men behaving badly in Albany, do our lawmakers really want to send a message to parents and communities in New York that we are going to allow a viciously violent sport into the Empire State?,” the group said in a statement. “Do we really want a sport whose biggest stars have exhibited disgustingly inappropriate behavior towards women and flagrantly used performance-enhancing drugs?”
 
UFC officials believe the opposition in the Assembly has more to do with union complaints against one of the sport's major companies in Las Vegas, something Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has denied.
 
Silver has said he believes the legalization of MMA is inevitable, though it’s unclear if the issue will make it to the floor this year for a vote.
 
"There has not been sufficient support in the past," Silver spokesman Michael Whyland said. 
 
"We'll discuss it with our members at some point and see if there is any change."
 
New York banned extreme fighting in 1997 at the urging of then-Gov. George Pataki, who called it barbaric. Since then, the sport has moved past its no-holds-barred days when there were few rules and is now sanctioned in every state but New York. Pataki now supports its legalization.