Paterson enters the octagon

Thumbnail image for ufc.jpg"Sources" tell NYDN that David Paterson will include a measure legalizing ultimate fighting in his proposed budget plan later this month.

Reps from the Ultimate Fighting Championship have been lobbying for legalization in NY the last few years -- and apparently Paterson sees this as a way to generate revenue. A Bronx assemblyman floated the same idea earlier this year.

Colonie assemblyman Bob Reilly has been one of the most outspoken critics of legalizing MMA. That prompted a UK paper to wonder if Reilly was "the most hated man in MMA."

photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow


Legalize MMA only if it can me used to settle differences in the NY State Senate.

Thank God. Here's hoping that this actually leads to the sport being legalized.

All the arguments against MMA are based on outdated mores, ignorance, and outright lies. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask Bob Reilly how many times he's been corrected - both in interviews and via correspondence - on all of the various claims he makes against legalizing the sport.

I think everyone should be concerned with the hardline stance Reilly has taken, if only because it's in such direct defiance of fact and logic. It scares me that a high-profile figure like Reilly with the power he wields could be so brazenly and defiantly on the wrong side of any issue and still be in a position to decide on its fate.

Why should assault and battery only be legal in front of paying audiences? Just let anyone beat anyone up wherever they choose. Think of what we'll save on law enforcement! This is not a sport, it's commercial barbarism!

Oh, this will make being anywhere near the Washington Ave Armory on Friday nights really fun. Or not.

I KNEW when I saw this article who would be one of the first (if not the first) to post. I get the bonus of knowing both!

I still try to understand fighting as a sport. That includes boxing. Don't get me wrong, to each his own, but I don't get the thrill of kicking someone's butt while thousands of people pay to watch. I know that some sort of defensive sport has been in existence literally forever (look at Asia), but to me (IMHO) it's great exercise and good to take out aggression on an inanimate object (love me a heavy-bag).

I guess Kevin & I will have to converse about this sometime.

Chris - then I suppose you hold the belief that boxing should be banned from the State as well?

I just want to make sure you're staying consistent. It's one thing to say it's "commercial barbarism," a great phrase to use when you want to take shortcuts to thinking and practical discussion of sports and the economy. It's one thing to say that professional fighting as a whole is all awful and should be banned. It's another thing to say MMA is wrong, but a sport like boxing that's statistically much more dangerous and has literally killed thousands of people over the years and permanently brain damaged many more is okay.

Kari (and I guess Kevin and everyone else), I kind of struggle with this myself.

I have a moderate amount of martial arts training myself, not that I've kept up with it much in the last couple of years. Grappling and sparring with other people is one of the most fun, intense, mentally focusing workouts you can ever do. Some of it, especially the grappling and ground work, you simply can't do without another person; you can't get used to how joints work or naturally reflexive action by using a bag.

But we've all seen martial arts movies, and we've all heard the master saying "hey, for plot purposes, you'r enever supposed to use this against anyone, ever." And in most martial arts training, that's not too far off. You might learn how to disarm a gun or a knife, but before that the best training is, if they want your wallet, give them your wallet. I don't like to playfight or wrestle with friends because I'm afraid I'll hurt them; training with someone who knows what's up in a controlled setting is one thing, tossing people around in the backyard is another. I learned the hard way and felt really, really bad.

So these guys, who do the MMA, they are atheletes. They are some of the best atheletes in the world, actually, and their skill, focus, training, and determinination is amazing. It's inspiring to watch what they can do. But on the other hand, what they do is purposefully hurt people. Sure, both guys go in knowing this. But what about the audience? Are they really there to watch skilled atheletes? Or do they just want to see someone get the shit beat out of them? And why? And what are they going to take from that?

There's no easy answer one way or the other. But I have a hard time thinking violence is good.

The 2 most popular sports in our country today, Nascar and football, have all of the elements that people are describing about MMA. Granted in Nascar the goal is not to intentionally injure or hurt your competition, but I would wager to think that many of the spectators go to Nascar races thinking they may see some fantastic accident that gets repeated over and over again on Sportscenter. Football, on the other hand, is very violent and celebrates athletes who hit the hardest.

MMA, boxing, football - take your pick. Sports are dangerous, regardless of which ones you choose to watch. In high school athletics the two sports that report the most head injuries? Cheerleading and soccer.

We need creative ideas to help our slumping economy. MMA? More casinos? It beats me paying more in taxes.

quick note that everyone should get straight.
"Ultimate Fighting" is not a sport, nor will it ever be. The sport is Mixed Martial Arts. Ultimate Fighting Championships or the UFC has done such a good job at branding themselves as fight promoters....that they appear to own an entire sport, which really cant happen.

Kevin, yes, I'd outlaw boxing, too. For that matter, why is it OK for the state to make money promoting gambling via lottery, scratch off, and NYRA-run tracks while recreational drugs and prostitution are illegal? If the track is OK, we should be able to open a state-run brothel to balance the budget.

@ Chris

I'm sorry...just to clarify. You're comparing a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket to prostitution? You have to be kidding....

No, I'm comparing gambling (in several forms) with other vices and saying the state makes strange choices which vices to support and capitalize on and which to outlaw.

B -I see your point. But, like someone else pointed out, other sports have the goal of inflicting some sort of physicality on the other person. In particular football, a sport that has killed and crippled folks. Injuries in MMA are never as serious as the ones you come across on the grid iron on a regular basis.

Why is that? Well, because the rules of the sport are in place to protect the athletes. You'll often hear fans and pundits complain about an early stoppage in a fight, but the bottom line is that's going to happen when you have rules that are in place to keep someone from getting hurt or injured.

It's not just a fan saying it: MMA may look more brutal than other combat or team sports, but when you talk to the participants and look at the statistics, I think you'd be surprised. Safer than boxing and football, both of which are national institutions.

Well-intentioned philosophical "is violence ever ok" discussions, in relation to mixed martial arts, make me chuckle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting no-holds-barred violence in all aspects of daily life and in the streets. I'll attend Jackson Katz lectures and participate in non-violent passive resistance campaigns when it comes to undermining the political and social powers-that-be too.
But unless you're a satyagrahi, you're going to have a very hard time convincing me that MMA should remain illegal because it purportedly promotes violence within our culture. Let's just go ahead and outlaw rugby, football, video games, movies, youtube, and Top 40 music too because they might promote violence as well.

I've been writing to my legislators, asking them to support the legalization of MMA in NY for months, and am very glad to see that the Governor has spoken out on this.
There are 42 states in this country where mixed martial arts is a legal, sanctioned sport and NY is one of the last holdouts. The UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, and smaller homegrown promotions could all bring in much-needed revenue to the state during a time of financial turmoil. Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the world and it's time for NY to catch up.

Great post. You pretty much nailed it.

This video really sums it up best:

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