UFC back in New York? Gov. Paterson wants to legalize ultimate fighting - to resolve budget crisis
Gov. Paterson is set to propose legalizing ultimate fighting and its controversial steel-cage matches to help wrestle the state's fiscal woes.
Madison Square Garden and upstate venues have supported the idea in hopes of hosting its events. An Ultimate Fighting Championship league match scheduled for Newark in March sold out last week.
Paterson, who has said the state faces a deficit of up to $9 billion, is looking for ways to generate revenue without raising taxes or borrowing and will reveal his proposal in his 2009-10 budget plan Jan. 19, sources told the Daily News.
Supporters say legalizing the sport would result in millions of dollars for the cash-strapped state - not just from the matches but also the economic impact on hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
A study done in 2008 by the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization estimated one event would generate $11.5 million in economic activity in New York City and $5.2 million in Buffalo. Ultimate Fighting Championship estimates there could be two or three events a year in New York.
Ultimate fighting takes place in steel cages and allows punching, kicking and choke holds. Matches end with knockouts, submission by a fighter or a referee's or doctor's order. The sport is regulated in 42 states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and California.
New York banned it in 1997 at the urging of then-Gov. George Pataki, who called it barbaric. A bill to reverse the ban and allow the sport to be regulated by the state Athletic Commission has died the past two years in the Assembly.
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