State legislators consider legalizing Mixed Martial Arts

Jun 8, 2015

On the long calendar of legislation pending in Albany as the session winds down, one of the most-discussed is a proposal to allow professional Mixed Martial Arts fighting. The proposal has been blocked in recent years by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The situation is more than a little complicated because mixed martial arts fights occur all the time. Amateur MMA is legal while professional MMA is barred. Supporters say that means the state doesn't pick up tax revenues and the fights aren't well-regulated on health risks which would change if state regulations take effect.

"It's like boxing. Boxing is legal in New York. The point of both of these sports is to induce concussions," said  Doctor John Leddy, professor of clinical orthopedics for UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

"As a physician who sees lots of concussions I really don't condone people boxing or participating in MMA. But if they do, I certainly take care of them."

East Amherst Republican Assemblyman Ray Walter is a strong backer of legalizing MMA. He says the State Senate has again passed the legislation and suspects the Assembly would pass the legalization is there were a free vote of members.

Walter says new Speaker Carl Heastie has backed MMA in the past.