Updated 08/10/2012 06:24 AM
MMA takes a swing at state legalities
Professional MMA is illegal in New York State, but amateur mixed martial artists are fighting this weekend in Albany anyway. As YNN's Erin Vannella reports, a title distinction allows the sports to be fought locally.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "There will be no pay, no fighters get paid, the gloves are bigger, and there are a couple rules and regulations as far as what strikes are allowed," said heavyweight boxer Shannon Miller.
Go amateur or stay home. It's a simple title change that will allow MMA fighters to entertain a crowd in Albany for the first time Saturday night at the Armory.
"The current law only deals with professional mixed martial arts," said Miller. "Amateur martial arts, as long as it's sanctioned by an amateur body, is perfectly fine."
MMA's legality is a long standing issue among New York's lawmakers. Opponents say finding a loophole to fight anyway is irresponsible.
"This is an attempt to circumvent the law," said Democratic Assemblyman Bob Reilly. "We have a state athletic commissioner who has chosen not to enforce laws and regulations. There are just so many safety issues that are involved here."
Reilly says MMA perpetuates violence.
"People are getting knocked out," said Reilly. "They're given concussions. There should be, but probably won't be, adequate medical personnel."
Miller says his 20 years as a professional fighter haven't left him any worse for wear.
"No one is being forced into doing this," said Miller. "I've been a professional boxer since I was 18. I'm 38 now. They talk about scrambling their brains and I seem to be okay."
Fighters are dads and uncles, sons and brothers, said Miller, and they're not fighting for attention but for the love of the sport.
"Does it have violence?" said Miller. "Yes it has violence. So does football. So does boxing. There are plenty of sports with violence. That doesn't mean we outlaw them and we can just fly kites now."
The New York State Athletic Commissioner did not return our phone calls. Assemblyman Bob Reilly is not seeking reelection this fall. The candidate looking to replace him, Democrat Tim Nichols, is hosting a news conference Friday to discuss this very issue and how he supports MMA's legalization in the state.
Cage Wars 13 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Washington Avenue Armory.