NY Post: Let 'em fight

May 28, 2011

It's time for New York to join the vast majority of other states and legalize ul timate fighting -- a k a mixed-martial arts, or MMA.

The state Senate this week voted to do just that, giving a boost to a multidisciplinary sport that incorporates elements of boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, kick-boxing, etc.

Yes, the bouts are tough: Sen. John McCain once derided it as "human cockfighting."

However, similar objections were made about boxing's early days. In recent years, as more states have approved of the sport, more safety precautions have been introduced.

New York outlawed ultimate fighting in 1997 -- a time when nearly 40 states had similar bans.

But the sport has exploded in popularity since then. Fully 45 states now permit -- and regulate -- MMA, as the sport grosses more than $400 million a year.

That means New York is cutting itself off from a very profitable industry.

Legalization could bring in as much as $11 million per event for the Big Apple and $5 million to the economically distressed upstate region.

Ironically, even though state law prohibits MMA bouts at historic Madison Square Garden, the sport registers high ratings on the venue's cable subsidiary MSG (as well as on other networks, such as ESPN, Spike and Versus).

Albany needs to get off the fence.

In particular, the Assembly should follow the Senate's lead -- and overturn the ban forthwith.

New York needs to be more creative in attracting new industries -- and the added jobs and tax revenue that comes with them.

Legalizing ultimate fighting looks like a no-lose proposition.


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