MMA community reacts to legalization of sport in New York

·Combat columnist
MMA community reacts to legalization of sport in New York

It was a long and sometimes zany debate on the floor of the New York State Assembly in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, but when it ended, mixed martial arts was legal in New York for the first time since 1997.

Below are quotes from legislators during the hearing, comments from UFC officials made during a conference call not long after the vote of 113 to 25 in favor of legalization, as well as tweets from fighters and others interested in the process.

N.Y. Rep. Jose Rivera, Democrat, 78th Assembly District: "Some of the concerns I've heard throughout this debate back and forth, well, I can tell you, having been raised in the South Bronx, I don't know what you're afraid of. I don't know what you're afraid of. You're afraid of violence? You're lucky you didn't grow up in the South Bronx like I did."

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta on the first UFC fight in New York: "I think it's going to be an epic moment for the sport and for the company. Obviously right now, all of our focus is on trying to put together the matches for UFC 200. But when we go to New York and we eventually debut at Madison Square Garden, me and [UFC president] Dana [White] and the rest of the team are going to be very focused on delivering for the fans. We wlll put together the best available matches that we can. We will have the biggest names we can put on; the biggest names who are available at the time."

Marc Ratner, UFC senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs: "It's exhiliration, but I was comparing it to almost an eight-year pregnancy. Finally, the baby was born tonight."

Joseph Morelle, majority leader, New York state assembly: "People should note that anything you can do in mixed martial arts under the bill, you can already do in single discipline martial arts or the other combative sports that are already authorized in New York, whether it's jiu-jitsu, karate, taekwondo, wrestling, judo, boxing, et cetera. This simply merges those single disciplines into a single sport."