New Yorkers rejoiced this week when the bill to legalize MMA had finally made it onto the Assembly floor, and successfully passed with a vote of 113 in favor to 25 opposed. While we still need a few more steps to complete the process 100%, every element is in place for the first professional MMA event to happen in New York. As a fellow New Yorker, this news meant the world to me, so I had to make a new video for my Fight Nerd Newsline series to discuss it.
I started my website in February 2009, but the Youtube page actually launched in the fall of 2008. The first video I ever uploaded was the NYSAC hearing on legalizing MMA from November of that year, and since then I gave as much time on my site and channel to help push MMA in the state as much as I could. I was there at the first rally to legalize MMA in 2011, and have done as much as I can (along with many others) to raise awareness of the issue and educate the masses. The fight to legalize MMA in NY was a personal one for me, and it allowed me to meet people that I still call my friends today, along with other opportunities that I would not have had if not for being part of this community. Many of us have worked very hard on the grassroots-end of this issue and knowing our work has come to an end is a gratifying experience.
When the Honorable Jeffrion L. Aubry said, "The bill has passed," I felt a surprisingly high amount of emotion, filling me with relief that the battle is over, and joy that we won. This is something I have been a part of for a long time, and hearing those words, even a dozen times while I edited this video, kept giving me goosebumps and still does now. Mission accomplished.
There are many people who need to be thanked for their efforts in this battle, and I am stealing these names from The Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY's founder, Stephen Koepfer's blog post (who is also a New York City gym owner and was the producer for the feature-length documentary "New York MMA"):
Jim Genia, Eddie Goldman, Paula Romero, Justin Klein, Steven Katz, Steve Kardian, Assemblyman Dean Murray, Assemblywoman Joyner, Kahleem Poole, Bruce Kivo, Matthew Kaplowitz, Dave MacLean, Rob Hinds, Chris Herzog, Peter Storm, Michael Benjamin, Steve Greenberg, David Weinraub, Frank Shamrock, Tara LaRosa, Alistair Overeem, Councilman Joel Rivera, Mike Hauben, Michael Stets Steczkowski, Luis Toledo, Julian Earle, Ronald McEvilly, Don Lilly, Matthew Hu, Barry Friedman and his incredible team, Danielle Hobeika, Chris Reitz, Jorge Rivera, Peter Lampasona, Corey Sands, Bradley Desir, Rick Wenner, Anil Melwani, Curt Boshnack, Josh Pawlyk, Fletcher Neal, Phoenix Carnevale, Forrest Hobbick, Kevin MacDonald, Robert Billings, Reggie Hinds, Lyman Good, Mike Rivers, Mike Straka, Josh Barnett, Nestor Marte, Bas Rutten, Rob Terlizzi, Brian McLaughlin, Primo Bellarosa, Stephen Kunen, Paul Paone, everyone who endorsed NYMMANOW, the Bronx Week Film Festival, Columbia University Sports Management Program, Dylan Wanagiel at MSG, NYS Boxing Commissioner John Signorile, Mohegan Commissioner Michael Mazzuli, Nick Lembo of the NJSACB, Anastasios Mylonas, all the folks at MMA4NY, all the promoters across NYS who never gave up, all the legislators who supported us over the years in the Assembly and Senate, anyone who came to our rallies, watched our documentary, read, shared or contributed to my NYMMANOW blog, attended our events and were willing to give us locals a voice and allowed us to speak truth to power.
Congratulations to everyone involved, and congrats to New York - we finally did it.