Law Reviving Professional MMA in New York Requires Additional Insurance Protection for Traumatic Brain Injuries

When professional mixed martial arts makes its return to New York State next month, fighters will have an added layer of protection from traumatic brain injuries. During the 2016 legislative session, the New York State legislature passed a requirement that all professional fighters — including both boxing and mixed martial arts — carry $1 million of additional insurance protection per fighter on a given fight card.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s event “UFC 205” will be the first state-sanctioned professional mixed martial arts competition in New York since 1997. The sport had been banned until this year. As a condition of the law permitting mixed martial arts, promoters must now carry a $1 million insurance policy that covers traumatic brain injuries. This requires promoters to pay a nominal fee per fighter. For example, at next month’s UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will have to pay $1,675 per fighter, per fight, totaling $43,550 for the event.

The new amendments to state law have implications outside of the octagon as well. Specifically, the additional insurance requirement also affects boxing fights in New York. Boxing promoters have reacted negatively by pulling fighting events from New York in order to avoid paying the high insurance premium cost. Notably, Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum accused the UFC of attempting to “freeze out” other fight promotions by advocating for the new insurance requirement.

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