Local MMA trainee speaks out about legalization - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Local MMA trainee speaks out about legalization

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WATERVLIET, N.Y. - At Tigon Academy Monday, two amateur MMA fighters were gearing up for a fight coming up in Albany, but they won't be paid and they can't fight on the professional level.

A woman who trains at the academy shared how the sport has helped her and why she believes it should be legal.

"I used to get harassed by a couple people not just men, also women, I wasn't the most popular person growing up," said 21-year-old Aleena Gilani of Latham.

Gilani began her mixed martial arts training after she says she was bullied. Now she is gearing up to compete in the sport and along with other MMA women she believes professional MMA fighting should be legal in New York State.

"Made me a stronger person and I love the competition. It's a good way to keep yourself in shape," said Gilani.

A bill to legalize the sport professionally has passed in the Senate, but some Assembly members like Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee are hoping the hold up in the Assembly continues. Jaffee says it's a brutal cage fight that promotes violence against women.

"There have been many incidents where the cage fighters have been injured severely," said Jaffee.

As Gilani spars and practices her technique she hopes those against the professional fighting would take a closer look.

"You're not just walking into a cage unprepared. You get the training. If your instructor feels you're not strong enough or ready he or she will never put you in that situation," said Gilani.

Gilani says MMA gives her confidence and she hopes to one day compete on a professional level where she grew up. Assemblywoman Jaffee stands strong against it and hopes her fellow members will too.

"It's certainly not something we should say to our youth that this is acceptable and I hope that my colleagues will stand in opposition to this," said Jaffee.

The Assembly will hold a conference on the issue in three weeks according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
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