MMA Fighting contacted Assemblyman Bob Reilly to discuss whether Zuffa's new insurance policy could help pave the way for the legalization of MMA in New York, and while he at first admitted to not hearing the news, he offered -- for perhaps the first time -- a compliment to the MMA promoters.
"I certainly wouldn't disparage that," Reilly said. "I think that's a good thing."
The praise ended there, though, as Reilly quickly questioned the motives behind the decision.
"What immediately came to my mind was, What's the need for insurance? Because advocates for MMA have been touting how safe this sport is and that no one is ever injured, and in fact, the testimony here is that the worst that ever happened was a broken arm. But I don't think that insurance is going to do anything for the very prevalent brain damage that fighters will suffer.
"I think what MMA should be doing is, instead of providing insurance for injuries, is to do away with injuries."
When I explained to Reilly that the UFC fighters were already covered for injuries suffered in fights and the new insurance would cover injuries, suffered in or outside of the gym, while training or not for an upcoming fight, Reilly added:
"It's certainly not a bad thing that they provide this insurance, but it really does little or nothing to solve the problem of what will happen to fighters financially, of the physical damage done to fighters or the fact that this violent sport begets violence in our society. So it does nothing to address the systemic problems of MMA.
"I think it's a positive thing, but I don't think it's a positive step. In the sense that it doesn't address the systemic problems of MMA. But it's certainly not a negative thing."
Prior to Monday's announcement, Zuffa provided a $100,000 policy to each of its fighter to cover injuries sustained during a fight. However, if a fighter injured themselves in training or at home, they were not covered by this policy. As of June 1, though, Zuffa will pay 100 percent insurance premiums for all its fighters and will assign a full-time employee to work on claims.
The insurance policy, which will be underwritten by Houston-based specialty insurance group HCC Insurance Holdings, will offer $50,000 to each fighter in worldwide, 24-hour medical-life insurance and dental coverage, as well as emergency medical evacuation to the fighters.
"Our athletes are some of the very best in the world and we've committed significant financial resources to provide them with insurance that complements the gold standard we have set for event-related coverage," UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated in a press release. "We're pleased to provide coverage that enables our athletes to seek and receive treatment for injuries sustained while preparing for bouts."
For more on the fight to legalize MMA in New York, click here.