NY Daily News: N.Y., stop fighting this sport: Mixed martial arts is safe -- and our economy needs the kick

June 13, 2011

By Dana White

If you've paid any attention to mixed martial arts over the past decade, you know the sport has exploded. It has the highest pay-per-view numbers of any sporting event, is broadcast on numerous cable, satellite and network television stations, enjoys mainstream sponsorships and has a large and diverse fan base. It is sanctioned in 45 of 48 U.S. states that have athletic commissions and across Canada and Australia.

Unfortunately, MMA fans in New York are forced to enjoy the sport from afar. Here in New York, MMA is totally banned.

It's long past time to overturn that prohibition. It's a safe and respectable sport that's every bit as legitimate as boxing or professional football.

I won't pretend to be objective. I run the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the single most popular MMA promotion company. While I think that our fans here in New York and the city would profit immensely from legalization, it will also certainly affect my bottom line.

But the benefits go far beyond my business. Bringing MMA to New York would make public policy sense in a city and state that need jobs and tax revenue badly.

I understand some people think no amount of economic activity is worth selling the state's soul - and some people insist that MMA is simply too brutal to allow. But MMA is completely different from the spectacle New York legislators banned back in the 1990s.

When MMA first came to the United States, it was modeled after a Brazilian sport known as vale tudo - "anything goes." Its early days were marked by a distinct lack of strong regulation - no weight classes, no time limits and no rules.

In 2001, MMA reinvented itself. The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were written and adopted by the leading regulatory bodies working closely with promoters, including the UFC. The rules include provisions for weight classes, rounds and time limits. Dangerous maneuvers are totally outlawed. In the UFC, we have multiple ringside doctors at every fight, mandatory pre- and post-fight MRIs, comprehensive drug testing and a competitive atmosphere.

If a fighter gets a concussion, he is forced to sit out of matches and training for a mandatory period determined by the regulatory body overseeing the event. No other professional sport has such strict concussion rules.

All of those changes have produced two incredibly positive results: First, no athlete has suffered a serious injury in the history of UFC - nothing beyond a broken bone. Second, the sport has gained worldwide popularity and firmly established itself as the fastest-growing sport in the country.


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