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Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign bill legalizing mixed martial arts in New York on Thursday

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Mixed martial arts officially becomes legal in New York State on Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the bill legalizing the sport in the Empire State in a morning ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City, ending a ban passed by the state legislature in 1997.

The state Assembly approved the bill legalizing the sport on March 22 by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 113-25. The Assembly's move followed a 48-14 tally on March 22 in the State Senate.

Cuomo's signature will mark the culmination of a near-decade-long effort in the state capital of Albany to repeal the ban, passed in a wave of media hysteria during the UFC's first wave of popularity in the sport's primitive days. Versions of the bill passed the Senate for seven straight years, but were stymied by former Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, who is currently imprisoned after a 2015 conviction on corruption charges.

After Cuomo signs the bill, the New York State Athletic Commission will have a 120-day review period to prepare overseeing MMA events in the state.

The UFC, which has promised to hold four events per year in the state for each of the first three years the sport is legal, is looking to hold a show at MSG in November. Bellator has stated its intent to hold a card at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Cuomo's signing ceremony, which is not open to the public, is at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Various big-name fighters and executives are expected to attend.

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