Lift the Ban Watch: Legal MMA in New York By 2009?

Marc Ratner seems confident:

UFC executive Marc Ratner, who gained fame as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission in the 1990s, told the Times Herald-Record yesterday that he believes sanctioned mixed martial arts events will be held in New York by the end of the year.

Ratner said he is hiring a lobbyist -- one he expects to name later this month -- to try to convince state politicians to bring the issue to the table in Albany.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia allow mixed martial arts, which is enjoying a massive surge in popularity but is banned in New York. A November UFC card held in Newark, N.J., attracted thousands of fans from New York eager to see a live event.

"We have been working on it," said Ratner, the UFC's vice president of government and regulatory affairs. "We want to get to New York and start the legislative process. I find no reason why (mixed martial arts) shouldn't be allowed in New York."

There is no overselling how huge legalizing MMA in New York would be. Madison Square Garden is the home for many of boxing's greatest fights, so for that esteemed venue to then host MMA fights would not only be a triumph of the efforts at legalization, it would also be a symbolic passing of the torch as to which sport - boxing or MMA - is the premiere combat athletic endeavor. Maybe legalization won't make liking MMA and boxing an either/or proposition, but for sure that question of which sport is on top will be raised and there's no question as to which sport has the momentum.

Boxing absolutely has the history and cultural inroads to make a strong case for it's status, but all MMA needs is time and it's got plenty of that.

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