With the recent move made by FOX \to broadcast a live UFC event, it would seem that Mixed Martial Arts has reached major mainstream status. With fighters like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Georges St. Pierre, Brock Lesnar and others getting advertising contracts with large corporate companies and movie deals, one would think that the country as a whole is embracing MMA in a new light.
In New York, that's still not the case.
Many years ago, New York was a Mecca for boxing. Countless fights were held in Madison Square Garden throughout the years. Many of those fighters have become a shell of what they were, both from taking so many head shots, and from refs giving them get 10 seconds to get up and take more punishment.
In the UFC, that is not the case and many argue that MMA is much more safe than the “Sweet Science." With grappling and wrestling becoming such an integral part of the fight game, many fighter's careers can last much longer, because the elements of the octagon are not just taking punches to the head and body.
I have talked to many parents and coaches about whether they would rather have their kids play football or participate in MMA. Unlike football, the opponents have to fight face-to-face, which means that a blindside hit will probably not occur. With a state like New York, who has been a part of football since it’s inception, you would wonder if any of the politicians in that state are big football fans?
Also, with so many schools having to cut budgets back (football is very expensive to participate in), the youth are looking to compete in something that showcases their skills. People like Jay Glazer are helping NFL players incorporate MMA into their training. People like Clay Matthews and Jared Allen have boasted how much that training has helped them on the football field, from muscle stamina to explosiveness.
This is not the UFC that the Gracie family created years ago.
Today's UFC is more organized, more controlled and new rules have been put into place for the fighter’s safety, including weight classes and timed rounds. This sport is not the “cockfighting” that legislators are trying to portray it as. For a city that loves to tax everything, why wouldn’t they jump on the golden goose of the UFC, whose popularity is skyrocketing faster than anything in sports?
Again, this is not the same UFC that was banned in 1997. This is a product that has been polished and honed to become one of the best organizations in American sports.
It’s quite hypocritical for a state that promotes gladiator sports like boxing and football to not allow something arguably much safer like MMA.
Dana White and a group of others, including fighters, have filed a lawsuit against New York state officials to overturn the ban in the state. It makes sense to open up the lucrative sport of MMA in a city that is supposed to be open to new ideas, diverse cultures and different ways of life. The first UFC promotion at Madison Square Garden will be a great day in history for MMA.
New York promotes the NFL, WWE and boxing, so why not MMA? Hopefully these issues can be resolved, and the millions of fans in New York can get what they deserve.