Downtown Brooklyn

Borough prez joins in fight to bring MMA to New York

February 26, 2016 Jaime DeJesus
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New York may be last to the party, but elected officials and fighters hope that 2016 is finally the year that the bell rings for professional mixed martial arts (MMA) in the state.

Borough President Eric Adams was joined by UFC fighter Chris Weidman, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark and other elected officials at Barclays Center on Tuesday, February 23 to discuss their support and the significance of legalizing professional MMA in New York, the only state where the sport is prohibited.

Adams contended that Brooklynites shouldn’t be deprived of one of the country’s most popular sports.

“We are ready to crown mixed martial arts here in the borough of Brooklyn and the state of New York,” he said during the conference. “It’s long overdue that this great economic engine and sport initiative should find its home in the largest arena possible, and that is in Brooklyn, New York City and New York State.”

A bipartisan bill to authorize MMA and allow for regulation by the New York State Athletic Commission has been passed in the State Senate but still needs approval in the Assembly.

According to the BP, the bill has passed the Senate for several years, but certain barriers including opposition from the Assembly have slowed the process. However, he believes that the time is nearing for the sport to come to the state.

“Now, with new Assembly personnel, we have a good chance to finally have the bell ring and ensure that we can have a crowd come here to New York,” Adams said. “This is an important initiative not only for sports but also as an economic engine. MMA generates over $500 million in revenues every year in the United States.”

Adams said that MMA in New York would generate $5.4 million each year in local and state tax revenue. “It also has the potential to expand our economy by 135 million each year. These are real numbers,” he stressed.

Yormark, who has played an integral role with the Barclays Center since its opening in 2012, stated that attendees have been asking for the popular sport.

“MMA is the fourth most popular sport in the country and it’s obviously time for it to come here to New York,” he said. “We do post event surveys following every event at Barclay Center. And there is one event that fans want and that is not here yet, and that is MMA.”

Weldman, who is a native New Yorker and former UFC middleweight world champion, is eager to get the opportunity to fight in his hometown in the near future. “I can’t believe in the seven years I’ve been in this sport, I haven’t been able to fight in my hometown, especially when you can fight pretty much any other place in the world,” he said.

“As the only state to prohibit professional MMA competitions, New York is missing out on economic opportunities that can spur growth and bring in millions,” said Assemblymember Pamela Harris in a statement. “Legalizing MMA is the right thing to do — it will help jumpstart our state’s economy, attract tourism, create jobs and bring in additional tax revenue. It’s time New York joins the rest of the nation in legalizing this sport.”

Photo courtesy of Borough President Eric Adams
Photo courtesy of Borough President Eric Adams


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