New York Assembly Passes MMA Legislation
A three-hour debate finally led to a vote of 113-25 on the Assembly floor in favor of legalizing MMA.
The fight to legalize the sport has lasted for years, yet this was the first time it ever made it to the assembly floor for a vote.
"Since 2007, I've been knocking on doors," said Ron McEvilly, a former MMA competitor and teacher.
Efforts from MMA supporters in the past were always thwarted by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and now that he's gone, the bill got the chance to move forward.
"It finally came through," said McEvilly. "All the hard work paid off; it's safety for the competitors, and that was my main goal."
McEvilly says he's seen an ugly side of the sport without state regulation. But opponents of the bill said the ugly side is the sport itself and argued that it leads to brain injuries and encourages domestic violence.
"It should be banned," said Assemblyman Charles Barron. "This goes too far for your entertainment."
The bill's sponsor, Joe Morelle, says his legislation has words that protect the athletes. It includes insurance policies for injured fighters, a death benefit, and a directive for the Department of Health to study the effects MMA has on the brain.
"The more that we learn about this," Morelle said, "the more sports will be modified to reflect that, and to continue to try to make the most positive changes that we can to limit, to the greatest degree, possible injuries to the brain."
The bill now goes to the governor's desk, and he is expected to sign it. Once that happens, the New York State Athletic Commission has 120 days to set forth rules and regulations.