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UFC Is Ready to Battle in New York as Governor Cuomo Legalizes Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighting Championship finally returns to the Empire State as Madison Square Garden prepares to host a historic fight on November 12.
@NYGovCuomo / via Twitter

After a years-long battle, mixed martial arts is officially legal in New York. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation on Thursday, lifting the ban on MMA competitions in the Empire State. UFC fighters Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman stood by Cuomo as he signed the document, making New York the last state in the union to allow mixed martial arts fights.

The UFC wasted no time in celebrating the legislation, announcing that they'll hold their first (and long-awaited) event at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 12. UFC brass didn't name any other specific plans for fights, but said they plan to bring four events each year to New York for the next three years. Another event will come to upstate New York by the end of 2016, although the date and location are not yet set.

“It’s time to bring mixed martial arts competitions to the New York stage. With venues like Madison Square Garden, New York truly is the international icon for great sporting events, and we’re excited to begin a new chapter of MMA in the Empire State,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release.

The governor's office said the move to legalize MMA could bring upwards of $130 million in “economic activity” to the state. New York's previous ban on MMA dated back to 1997.


"Today marks a great day for both MMA fans and New York," said Joel Fisher, executive vice president for The Madison Square Garden Company, in the UFC press release. "We think it’s only fitting that the first UFC event is taking place at The World’s Most Famous Arena and look forward to these world-class athletes becoming part of The Garden’s storied history.”

The last UFC event in New York was UFC 7, held in Buffalo in 1995. Supporters of mixed martial arts have been fighting to bring the sport to New York for nearly two decades. In March, New York's state senate voted 113-25 in favor of legalizing the sport, setting up Cuomo to sign the bill.

MMA fighter Aljamain Sterling joined Rousey and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta at the signing:



Weidman took to social media to celebrate the news about the UFC coming to New York:



UFC also got a warm welcome from some of Gotham's more established sporting franchises.



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