ALBANY, N.Y. - Women MMA fighters gathered at the Capitol Monday to express their desire to have the sport legalized.
Mixed martial artist, and wife of chef Anthony Bourdain, Ottavia Bourdain joined with other women involved in the sport at the Capitol to urge the Assembly to pass a bill that would legalize professional MMA fighting. She believes it promotes a positive message for all women.
"It teaches discipline, respect, good sportsmanship, bravery, control," Bourdain said. "They have a healthy, athletic body. They are strong, able to defend themselves and this empowering feeling promotes equality among men and women."
Although the MMA bill has passed in the senate and has support in the assembly, some members like Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee have a different outlook. Jaffee says she will not support the MMA bill because she says it is a brutal cage fight that promotes violence against women.
"They beat each other up without any control. Without any structure in terms of what they're allowed to do and very often the fighters are damaged severely."
But mixed martial artist Jennifer Bonjean says views like Jaffee's are not accurate.
Bonjean says, "When it comes to long-term serious injuries. Head injuries. MMA may as well be ballet as compared to football, boxing, hockey."
Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver says his members will conference on the matter in three weeks, but he does not think the benefits are great enough for NY to legalize professional MMA.
"I don't think the money is very significant. I've seen estimates of $2 million on an annual basis," he said.