The UFC’s push to get the sport regulated in New York State has a supporter in freshman Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray from the state’s 3rd district.
Murray appeared at Madison Square Garden alongside UFC president Dana White and owner Lorenzo Fertitta to speak to the media about the sport getting regulated there, and the tremendous financial addition to the state.
Representing areas such as Bellport, Farmingville, and Medford, Murray is working to get mixed martial arts approved in the state. He chalks it up to taking away a choice from New Yorkers to not be able to see the sport in their home area.
“The fact of the matter is this is another example of New York being a ‘nanny’ state,” Assemblyman Murray stated. “We have to stop doing that. We have to give the choice. How many cable TV stations do you have? How many radio stations do you have? You have choices. By us not legalizing this it’s removing that option of all these literally millions of fans in New York State having the option to see their hometown heroes fight.”
The financial boom for the state could also be a huge help. Estimates have over $23 million being added to the state a year with MMA events being held there, and more could be added as the number of events increases.
“In this economic climate, we don’t need more tax increases, we need a chance to raise revenue. This is a wonderful chance,” he added.
Murray has already taken the first steps to gain sanctioning for MMA in New York. He included mixed martial arts in the budget sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for approval.
Cuomo just went into office on Jan. 1, and will review the budget and then submit it to the Assembly for approval. While it’s not a lock one way or the other, even if it is approved in the budget, Murray says it will be a lot easier if the Governor has added MMA to his budget.
“I’ve actually contacted the Governor’s office and asked him to include this in the Governor’s budget this year. So we’re going to wait and see if it is included in the budget. If it’s not, I’m hoping that we’ll bring it to the floor for a vote,” Murray commented.
“If it’s in the budget, it has a much better shot of staying in the budget.”
Cuomo was one of several politicians Zuffa contributed to during last year’s election season. The Las Vegas based promotion pumped upwards of $75,000 towards his campaign, but the new Governor has never publicly stated his support or disapproval of mixed martial arts.
The real hurdle that Murray may face is in the form of Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who has been a very strong opponent against MMA in the state of New York. Reilly was re-elected in November, and will serve alongside Murray in the new Assembly this year.
“I do know him, we’ve just met. I got in last year in a special election, so I’ve been in there just coming up on about a year now. We’ve met in passing, haven’t spoken about this particular issue, but I have a funny feeling we will be speaking,” Murray intimated.
Reilly has never mixed his words when talking about MMA. In a past interview with MMAWeekly.com, Reilly put his foot down that he had no desire to see the sport be sanctioned in New York.
“I think that (MMA) basically is a glorification of violence, but it certainly promotes violence,” Reilly told MMAWeekly.com in a 2009 interview. “In itself, I think it’s a very brutal sport that creates, obviously, physical harm to the participants, and I don’t think there’s any other sport who’s purpose is to harm your opponent. But we know that in mixed martial arts, that, in fact, is one of the purposes.”
It remains to be seen if Reilly will be able to push his campaign further when the issue comes up again in the Assembly, or if Murray and his supporters will sway the vote. The message is clear, however, that the UFC isn’t backing down from coming to New York, and they are committed to making it happen in 2011.