UFC New York is coming as the NY State Assembly lifted the ban on professional mixed martial arts, which prevented staging MMA fights in the Big Apple for nearly 20 years.
The New York State Assembly passed a bill on Thursday, declaring that MMA will now be a legal activity in the state. According to ESPN, 113 voted in favor of lifting the ban that took effect in 1997, while only 25 voted against the plan. Only 76 votes were needed to give way to professional MMA events in New York.
Assembly members were given opportunities to give their take on the issue. Members who voted against were concerned about the negative effects like brain trauma, but those who saw the potential economic impact of the sport in New York eventually won the battle.
To formalize the lifting of the ban, Governor Andre M. Cuomo needs to sign the bill but it is just considered as mere formality because he has already expressed support to the move. Cuomo previously said that MMA events like UFC New York will bring more positives to the state.
UFC chairman and chief executive office Lorenzo Fertita lauded the decision and expressed gratitude to the New York State Legislature for lifting the ban. Fertita said that once Cuomo formally signs the bill, UFC will immediately make moves to stage a fight at the Madison Square Garden.
“I want to assure our fans that if Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law and the State Athletic Commission puts in place the appropriate regulations, we look forward to hosting our first New York event in the world’s most famous arena – Madison Square Garden,” Fertita said in a statement.
Fertita also added that they will schedule UFC New York fight cards in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany and Brooklyn. Previous reports indicated that the promotion will stage at least four fight cards a year in New York.
Aside from UFC New York, fans should also expect fight cards from Bellator MMA as president Scott Coker revealed that they already had preliminary talks about holding an event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Coker said that the decision is big for MMA because New York is a huge market for the sport.
“The New York Assembly’s vote to legalize MMA is a watershed moment for this incredible sport,” Coker said in a statement. “As someone who has been promoting combat sports for more than 30 years, this is a very exciting time for mixed martial arts.”