ALBANY, N.Y. – This year could be the year that professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is legalized in New York State.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin says it could bring more jobs, revenue, and economic growth to NY. "It's a popular sport. We're losing that money out of state right now," he said.
He is one of 64 sponsors backing the Assembly bill which would allow the full-contact combat sport to be professionally held in the state.
"I think people should have the right to see it if that's what they choose to do," McLaughlin said. "With the leader of the Assembly, Assemblyman Morelle sponsoring this, I think it has a definite shot at getting through this time."
Opponents of the bill state that, "it is unthinkable that lawmakers in any jurisdiction would risk exposing our children to an activity that involved extreme violence and brutality."
Many anti-violence women's group are quick to call MMA or cage fighting sensationalized violence and the Catholic diocese in Albany calls it immoral. "Every sport has a violent temper to it - football, basketball, baseball. Everyone bangs heads," said Ron McEvilly, of Tigon Academy.
McEvilly calls the sport misunderstood. "This is our lifestyle, not something we do in a corner or back alley," he told the NEWS CENTER.
"There is misconception about the sport," McLaughlin added "It's highly regulated."
The bill could be introduced on the assembly floor within the next two months.