Lift the Ban on MMA in New York
The New York Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts & Sports Development
Fans, fighters, and supporters of Mixed Martial Arts
More Info at:
It has come to our attention that bill 1-11458-A, intended to regulate the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in New York, is being considered in the State Legislature. While 37 states have passed laws regulating MMA, New York has had an active ban on the sport since 1997. At the time, pejorative labels like "human cockfighting" plagued the sport and they weren't always unwarranted. But MMA in 2009 is a markedly different sport than it was 12 years ago, particularly since the advent of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts in 2001, which outlawed such dangerous techniques as head-butts and kicking the head of a downed opponent. The idea of modern MMA as "no holds barred" competition couldn't be further from the truth.
Seeing the combination of kickboxing and submission grappling within the confines of a caged enclosure may seem alien to some viewers at first. MMA matches are undoubtedly violent affairs which often leave their competitors bloodied, and there's always the possibility of injury. Thankfully, serious injuries remain a rare occurrence in MMA competition, and there's been only one death related to sanctioned competition in the U.S. This is a direct result of the numerous rules and safeguards that are in place to keep the fighters safe everything from the referee's orders to stop a match when a participant is no longer mounting an intelligent defense, to the cage itself, which prevents fighters from falling out of the ring. There's no data to suggest that MMA is any more dangerous than other high-impact sports like boxing, football, or hockey. In fact, a recent Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study concluded that the lower knockout rates in MMA compared to boxing may make MMA fighters less susceptible to brain injury.
Furthermore, it seems irresponsible to deny New York the tax and tourism revenue that high-profile MMA events could bring when the State is facing a $15 billion shortfall. An economic impact study commissioned by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and conducted by HR&A Advisors found that a UFC event in New York City would generate $11.5 million in "net new" economic activity, $5.3 million in direct event spending, $1.4 million in non-lodging visitor spending, and $4.9 million in indirect/induced benefits, while an event in Buffalo would generate $5.2 million in "net new" economic activity, $1.7 million in direct event spending, $1.4 million in visitor spending and $2.1 million in indirect/induced benefits.
We, the undersigned fans, fighters, and supporters of mixed martial arts, implore you to lift the ban on our sport. Opponents of MMA offer no evidence or data to prove that it is unacceptably dangerous to competitors or harmful to spectators, and the current resistance to MMA, in our opinion, comes primarily from an incomplete understanding of the sport and the positive impact it would have on New York's local economies. Please don't allow legislation to be dictated by emotional reactions rather than a reasonable consideration of the facts.
Ben Goldstein and Ben Fowlkes