State okays mixed martial arts fights

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When the Barclays Center Arena gets built at the Atlantic⁄Flatbush Avenues intersection, it may one day play host to mixed martial arts fighting.

That after a key State Assembly committee voted to sanction the sport for events throughout the state.

Currently legal in 38 states, the sport combines kickboxing, wrestling and martial arts with fighters in a cage or other enclosure, wearing only shorts and small gloves. The fights last until someone is knocked or choked out, quits or is declared the winner after bouts of three or five rounds.

The bill to legalize the sport passed the Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development, 14−6. The legislation would see the state’s athletic commission regulate the sport.

Additionally, the bill would impose an 8.5 percent tax on ticket receipts with no cap, as well as 3 percent of broadcasting rights with a $50,000 cap.

“This is a skilled form of martial arts that has caught on across the United States of America and I don’t see any reason why New York State shouldn’t regulate it,” said Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, the dean of the Brooklyn Assembly delegation.

Lentol said that while the Assembly didn’t sanction ultimate fighting because it was too violent, mixed martial arts is much more regulated.

“It is hardly a non−violent sport, but having said that, there are less head injuries then there are in boxing,” he said.

Also backing the measure is Assemblymember Alec Brook−Krasny, whose 46th Assembly district includes Brighton Beach, a large area of former Soviet Union immigrants, who are big fans of different forms of sports fighting.

“We have to finally regulate the business with the state getting revenue from the tickets as well as taxes from people organizing such events,” said Brook−Krasny.

Brook−Krasny, the assembly’s first elected immigrant from the former Soviet Union, said he’s been to a couple of mixed martial arts fights.

“They are interesting fights, and different and less violent than ultimate fighting,” he said.

The measure is expected to next pass the assembly’s Codes Committee before it goes to the full Assembly for a vote.

Should it pass the Assembly as expected, Bay Ridge State Sen. Marty Golden said he will champion sanctioning the sport in New York from his side of the aisle.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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