A local push is on to legalize mixed martial arts in New York state.
New York state Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, on Thursday introduced legislation to make the professional fighting sport legal and regulated in the Empire State.
In a release from his office, Ceretto said the sport is expected to generate more than $5.2 million in economic activity a year in Western New York, plus additional revenue for the rest of the state. Currently, Mixed Martial Arts is regulated and recognized by 36 out of 44 states that have athletic commissions including California, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"Once again, New York state is missing out on an opportunity to generate revenue, create jobs and strengthen our tourism industry," Ceretto said. "Mixed martial arts is not the 'no-holds barred' debacle it was 20 years ago. Today, MMA is highly regulated and is one of the safest contact sports, with far fewer injuries than boxing, football or even gymnastics. MMA is a proven draw and I look forward to the day when venues in Niagara Falls and throughout the region have the ability to host these exciting and profitable events."
"MMA will be another event to help bring tourist and their dollars to Niagara Falls and would be a boost for local hotels, food-service and other tourist-related industries," Ceretto added. "The sport is very popular and has a loyal fan base, which is rapidly growing worldwide. These fans want to enjoy the sport live and I believe Niagara Falls would be an ideal venues for these events."
Ceretto believes that opponents of the sport are misinformed and noted that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made rule changes several years ago to enhance the sport's safety and make it more palatable to both the mainstream public and top-notch athletes and competitors.
"I understand that some people may not like the sport. However, there is no reason to stand in the way of allowing thousands of New York mixed martial arts fans to enjoy the sport locally," said Ceretto. "The sport is all over television and can even be seen regularly on broadcast television. By failing to legalizing MMA in New York, the Legislature is just ensuring that this money is spent elsewhere and depriving our economy of a proven commodity that will have a positive effect on a wide range of businesses. As the Ranking Member of the Assembly Tourism Committee, I find that unacceptable. MMA should be a part of our local tourism industry and I am confident that common sense will finally trump misguided perceptions of the sport this year." ___