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Bill To Overturn New York's Ban on MMA Making Its Way Through Government

Having an event in Madison Square Garden would be great for mixed martial arts. Even after playing host to Isiah Thomas, the Garden imbues events with an importance that many other arenas can't match. Some of the greatest boxing matches of all time happened in the heart of Manhattan and if, say, UFC hosted a pay-per-view there it would represent a major step for the sport.

Such an event is impossible, however. New York state banned MMA in 1997 after then-governor George Pataki called it "barbaric." A lot has changed in the last decade, though, especially the money generated by MMA events. Arena operators from MSG to Buffalo would love to grab a chunk of that cash and the state would make some dough off taxes on ticket sales.

Additionally, The New York Post reports that organizers have donated $25,000 to the state Democratic Committee and retained a lobbyist for 30K more to push for repeal. Those donations and other efforts seem to be paying off. There's a bill in the state legislature which would overturn the ban.
"I've never witnessed [Ultimate Fighting]," said Assembly bill sponsor Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale). "Initially, I thought it was gross. But I've learned that they are regulating themselves, so perhaps it's not as barbaric as it had been."

Another way to read Paulin's statement would be, "I don't have an actual opinion but I'm getting lobbied and making some campaign money off this issue so let's give it a whirl." Momentum is in the sport's favor and it wouldn't be surprising to see a lavish event at MSG before 2009 is out.

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