Bronx Pol Joel Rivera Rallies to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts

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Photo courtesy of the official website of the Ultimate Fighting Championship

Bronx Councilman Joel Rivera is ready to rumble over the fate of mixed martial arts.

Rivera, the Council's majority leader, attended a rally today at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York, one of eight states where the sport is illegal.

Rivera and fellow Councilman Jumaane Williams sponsored a resolution that supports Assembly and Senate bills which would allow MMA competitions and exhibitions throughout the state.

“Mixed Martial Arts has been a success in numerous markets across the United States and the World,” Rivera said in a press release. But it's not all about the money, Rivera said, “as a sport it has proven to be as safe as or safer than boxing and other contact sports.”

MMA is a legal and active sport in all but eight states. According to a study from Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, New Yorkers are “evenly divided on legalizing mixed martial arts (MMA), known as ultimate fighting, as 39 percent favor legalization while 41 percent find it dangerous, even barbaric and would ban it.”

However, one pro-MMA coalition, NY MMA Now, which is advocating for legalization in New York, criticized the Siena study, saying: “While it is true that MMA could bring needed revenue into New York, this argument is generally positioned against the opposing sentiment that mixed martial arts is too ‘dangerous, even barbaric.'”

NY MMA NOW says this juxtaposition can lead some to think that the argument in favor of MMA is “Yes, MMA is barbaric, but let's legalize it for the money.” But, “this could not be further from the reality of our sport and where supporters of our MMA stand.”