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Morning Report: Ronda Rousey promotes safety and empowerment lobbying for MMA in New York

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In Albany lobbying to make MMA legal in New York state, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is doing her best to make it to Madison Square Garden.

Bills to legalize MMA in the last remaining U.S. holdout have passed through the New York State Senate each of the past five years, but were blocked from being voted on in the General Assembly by now former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver.

With Silver gone after being forced to resign due to charges of corruption and his successor, Carl Heastie, supporting MMA's legalization, Rousey's campaigning should help counter arguments made by mostly female Democratic members of the Assembly who claim the sport promotes violence.

"New York state is the most dangerous place in the United States to do MMA," Rousey told media outside the Senate chambers. "MMA is here right now. It's just not regulated. It's only allowed at the amateur level. Amateur athletes, they're not paid, not regulated. There's no blood testing to make sure that the athletes are safe. There's no drug testing.

"It's so dangerous that something needs to be done about it. They need to be regulated. They need to be protected. They're really being neglected right now."

Rousey said she hopes to prove to be a testament to how MMA can empower women.

"Having women shown fighting on TV shows that it's OK for us to be strong," said Rousey. "It's OK for us to fight. So much history is being made through MMA for women in sports. It's a new sport so it's not really bogged down in tradition the way that a lot of others are."

Citing the success of her headlining bout Feb. 28 against Cat Zingano at UFC 184 in Los Angeles, Rousey says she believes she's part of a 'cultural revolution.'

"Maxim [Magazine] came out with the 'Tough Issue,'" Rousey said. "Suddenly it's not 'in' for women to be frail and emaciated for them to be attractive. This is becoming a new thing where little girls, they're not looking at Cinderella's and Barbies, they're looking at female fighters. They want to grow up strong. They want to be able to protect themselves. They want to be ambitious instead of being taken care of."

With the added support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rousey has dreams of chowing down on some post-fight chicken wings in Buffalo.

"What was that dude's name? Silver ... who got arrested for corruption?" Rousey asked sarcastically. "The fact that the guy who was arrested for corruption was against this bill is a testament that no one should have been against this bill, at all. If the corrupt guy didn't want it to pass then I would like to be on the other side of that."

Rousey faces No. 1 contender Bethe Correia Aug. 1 at UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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