Right now in NY there is a hotly contested debate as to whether or not the state should legalize MMA. Some people claim it is barbaric and brutal. It promotes violence and is in no way a sport. These people are uniformed and tainted by the images shown on the news. I heard one woman in an interview on the news last night say something to the effect of "No we shouldn't allow it in NY. This bare knuckle fisticuffs. They should have left this stuff in the school yard". What?! This lady clearly has no idea what she's talking about. The sport of MMA is just that, a sport and would only help NY city and state if it were to be legalized.
MMA is not violent street fighting as many people like to incorrectly pigeon hole it. It was designed as an exhibition between various martial arts and fighting disciplines to determine which one was essentially the ultimate fighting style. At UFC 1 it was almost a bare knuckle backyard brawl that people like to portray it but since then it has evolved countless times to ensure the safety of it's participants as well as legality and acceptability in most of the states. The first event was fought seemingly without rules. There were no gloves used, no weight classes implemented and no judges. Fights were only ended by a person quitting or being knocked out. There were few few rules including no eye gouging or biting. Since then standardized gloves have been made a requirement, round limits and time limits have been added, judges and doctors have been in place to inspect fighters and decide winners should it reach the time limit. These are basic necessities in a combat sport but many other rules have been put in place as well, you cannot strike the back of the head of an opponent, kicking or kneeing the head of downed opponent, stomping a downed opponent, and you cannot strike the throat of an opponent. Those are just some of the rules used by the UFC. In total there are 31 individual fouls so this is clearly not the anything goes street fight.
MMA is a combination of individual discipline areas including greco-roman wrestling, boxing, karate, jiu-jitsu and more. All of these aspects that make up MMA are legal individually in NY. People argue that it is overly violent but in reality it is no more violent and in many ways actually safer then boxing. Due to the variety of places and techniques that can be used in an MMA match the head often takes much less damage then in a typical boxing match. Therefore the long term damage to the brain and head region of MMA fighters is much less then is the case in boxers. Granted MMA has not been a sport nearly as long as boxing but if you look at the guys that have participated it for ages, guys like Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman etc. you see no where near the amount of damage as you do in boxers that have fought similar numbers of years. Another big factor in examining the violence is the fact that there have at this point in time been exactly 0 deaths in an MMA ring/cage. I could not find a single death directly related to MMA where as according to Gary S. Solomon's "The Heads-Up on Sport Concussion" there have been over 1,300 boxing deaths since 1880.
UFC events have been held all around the world and country. There have been UFC events in Las Vegas, Germany, England, Canada, The United Arab Emirates, Australia, Ireland, California, Ohio and even New York's next door neighbor New Jersey among countless other states. In each of these states there has been no tie to any rise in crime or violence as a result of holding these events. What MMA has brought to these states in place of higher rates of violence or crime is increased tourism and revenue. It sells out arenas and gets people watching the way boxing once did. It gets top ratings on CBS, Spike TV and Pay Per View. It has produced one of the top selling video games of 2009 (and presumably 2010) and become a mainstream phenomenon. The sports stars are as recognizable today as boxing stars were in its heyday. UFC fighters have appeared on a variety of television shows and movies including one of the most main-stream shows in America "Dancing With the Stars".
MMA is no more violent and has no more influence on kids then boxing, pro-wrestling, violent movies or violent video games. You may argue that it is too violent for your liking and that is fair but if that is the case you should look at all of the other areas mentioned as well. MMA is quickly overtaking boxing as the #1 combat sport in the world and with all the budget problems New York faces they need to recognize this and get on board already. Legalize MMA, there's no reason not to.