Though it isn't regulated and isn't legal at the professional level, plenty of mixed martial arts fights occur in New York state. U.S. women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey called New York the most dangerous place in the country to fight because of the lack of regulation.
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Rousey, who will defend her title against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 on Aug. 1 in Brazil, met privately with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as several other state political leaders in order to help push MMA's legalization.
After traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the announcement of the Correia fight last week, she arrived back in the U.S. over the weekend and got to work. Rousey visited the Tonight Show, where she pretended to arm-bar host Jimmy Fallon, appeared The View and found time to interview WrestleMania headliner Roman Reigns for Sports Illustrated.
On Thursday, Rousey appeared on Good Morning America, where she yet again made the case for MMA's legalization in New York.
"I really feel optimistic this year," Rousey told GMA host Robin Roberts. "I've talked to the governor. I feel like he's in our corner. It’s passed six years in a row in the Senate [and] it’s never been brought to a vote yet in the Assembly. I think it will this year.
"It’s not actually banned [in New York], only professionally. I think over 1,600 New Yorkers competed in MMA just this last year, but only in amateur events. So, there was no athletic commission to do any kind of medical testing or drug testing."
She continued, "Even the referees aren’t educated. It’s the most dangerous place in the U.S. to do MMA. And if someone gets hurt, it’ll be on the hands of the politicians who didn’t take the proper steps to protect them."
When the powerful then-Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver was indicted on federal corruption charges in January, many thought that the sport would finally be legalized in the Empire State.
For decades, Silver has been unrelenting in his desire to keep the sport out of New York, the only place in the country that does not regulate or permit professional, sanctioned bouts. The bill to legalize sanctioned MMA has never made it to the Assembly because Silver sat at the head and he had zero interest in opening New York up to MMA.
The UFC ownership has long contended that Silver blocked the MMA bill from coming to a vote because he was doing the bidding of the Culinary Union in Las Vegas, which is angry that the Fertitta-owned Station Casinos is non-union.
Now, with Silver out of the mix, the path to MMA legalization in New York appears to be open, and so, too, would be the ‘holy grail’ of venues, Madison Square Garden.