MMA Officially Legalized in New York State
On Thursday April 14, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially made New York the last state to legalize competitive mixed martial arts by signing into law a bill lifting the sport’s ban since the mid-1990s. While news of New York legalizing MMA broke back in March, when the bill was overwhelmingly passed in both the House and the Senate, Governor Cuomo made it official with the stroke of a pen on Thursday. This comes a little more than six months away from a scheduled UFC title bout to be held at Madison Square Garden in November of this year.
According to reports, MMA events will be supervised by the New York State Athletic Commission, which oversees similar combat sports like boxing and karate in the state. As well, UFC, long recognized as the premier leader in MMA, released a statement that praised the official passing of the bill, stating that along with the scheduled event at MSG this November, UFC would also sanction an official event somewhere in upstate NY by year’s end. UFC has also pledged to host four events in different cities across the state in each year for the next three years.
It is projected that between licensed MMA events, the openings of MMA gyms across the state, and having a UFC presence in NY will generate the state nearly $140 million, as well as upwards of $5-6 million in taxes every year hereafter.
Along with legalizing the sport here, the bill also calls for an increase in required insurance premiums promoters must hold for their fighters, increasing benefits to up to $1 million per fighter. The bill will also establish a study to look into funding options for lifetime care for fighters who suffer brain or other related cognitive injuries as a result of participating in MMA. This section of the bill was likely included in lieu of all the issues other contact sport leagues, such as the NFL, NHL, and WWE, are dealing with as the public becomes more knowledgeable of the dangers of concussions and head trauma on an individual’s mental longevity.