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Okay, personally, I hadn’t given much thought to the legalization of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in New York State.  What does that have to do with me? I am not going to watch it. I am not going to let my three boys participate in it any more than I would allow them to participate in boxing or football. Call me overprotective, whatever.  MMA would be an economic boon to the economy I hear.  God knows the City of Albany could use a boost.   Some even say MMA is good for kids. At least that’s what Albany County District Attorney David Soares says in today’s Times Union where he came out in support:


“From football to step-dancing, motocross to skateboarding, and boxing to kickball, we are creating spaces and places for children to be safe.”

Something about that statement just doesn’t ring true. While MMA might bear some resemblance to boxing, I just can’t see comparing it to  step-dancing and kickball.  Mind you, I grew up watching boxing with my grandfather, so it’s not like I have a general reaction to violent sports overall.  Call it splitting hairs if you want, but there is something about the idea of putting people in a cage and letting them just go at each other no holds barred that seems downright barbaric.  I can’t help thinking about cock-fights–oh, but those are illegal.
In my search for more information, like any good internet junkie, I did a google search on MMA in New York, and I talked to a guy from a group opposing it called United Here. Come to find out, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence submitted a letter to NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver over the signatures of multiple organizations including the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Organization of Women (NOW)-NY, and End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), the Arab American Family Support Center, the National Organization of Men Against Sexism, and Girls for Gender Equity opposing the legalization of MMA.  See the letter here.
“Why, in a state that just enacted tough new legislation addressing the epidemic of domestic assault, would we reverse course and expose our children to the violent misogyny and perverse forms of masculinity that are celebrated in the world of amateur and professional cage fighting?”-from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence letter to Speaker Silver
The gist of the letter focuses on the “irresponsible” behavior of the participants (to get a better sense of what irresponsible behavior looks like just google “MMA and sexual assault”) and the carelessness and outright misogyny of the company that dominates the industry, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), but it falls short of making a direct connection to increased sexual assaults and incidents of domestic violence.  The UFC responded to the letter and you can read that response here.
While I think of myself as a big, bad feminist, I don’t find the letter from the sexual assault and domestic violence advocates (peace, my sisters:)) entirely convincing. The real turning point for my own thinking about MMA came when I read this fact sheet: CageFighting-MMA-FactSheet(In all fairness, the fact sheet came from the above-noted anti-MMA folks, Unite Here).

The fact sheet hits  on a series of five points with detailed information to support them. The gist of it is here:

  1. Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is a spectacle of violence in which severe bodily harm and humiliation are possible outcomes.
  2. Cage fighters at the amateur and professional levels have competed in public stadiums and on television bearing Neo-Nazi messages in their tattoos and on their clothing.
  3. MMA does not fit the Council of Europe’s definition of sport.
  4. Regulators and promoters of professional MMA have so far failed to establish clear and consistent standards for preventing the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
  5. UFC-branded MMA sets a negative example for young people.

The most compelling argument to me against MMA is that it is simply not a sport. It’s a legal (in most states) way for people to beat the crap out of (and sometimes kill) each other.  Combatants are allowed to kick each other in the head,  use elbows, knees, hands to injure one another.  Choke holds are also permitted. Fighters are often “caged”–I know you have seen this on TV.     If you read exactly what MMA entails in the fact sheet, do you think it’s good for your kids? To quote a friend,

“Soares is wrong to compare it to judo or karate, just because it’s in the name. It is athletic, to be sure, but it is athletic activity devoid of honor, principle or restraint. Unless he thinks MMA is an innovative approach to getting guns off the street, ‘hey, let’s just teach our young people how to kill using only their bodies!'”

Bottom line? It’s a brutal, barbaric form of  “entertainment” whose legalization is being pushed by companies and people who are positioned to make a lot of money off of making it legal. Check out the increase from 2008 to 2012 in campaign contributions by the Zuffa LLC, the firm that operates the UFC franchise. (Thanks to Capitol Confidential,

UFC Contributions by Rick Karlin

What do you think? Should Mixed Martial Arts be legal in NY?

Whatever your thoughts, please comment or submit your own post in  response.

Two of our local representatives, Assemblyman John McDonald(108th) and Assembly woman, Patricia Fahy (109th)/both stated back in February that they are “open” to MMA. I don’t know if their positions have since changed, but I am sure they’d like to hear what you think.

Whatever your position on MMA, come on out on Tuesday, April 23rd from 11am-1pm on the West Capitol Park steps to Support Survivors of Sexual
Violence and Abuse with the  NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault and others.

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  1. gail_halestone says:

    I absolutely think that MMA being allowed in New York would cause a huge problem, and that they are just using the sport to make money. I don’t believe that it would in any way effect the people of NYS in a good way, at all, ever. It’s a terrible excuse for a sport, it’s hard to watch and it fills people with bad ideas like fighting in that style is cool and they should do it, or that an excessive amount of violence in any way is acceptable. I don’t think it should be legalized.

  2. keri13 says:

    Great blog piece. I hadn’t really thought much about the issue myself, but after reading this piece and doing a little bit more investigating, I couldn’t agree more. How can this “sport” be considered healthy for kids and young adults? I just don’t see how teaching children to beat the living crap out of each other, whether sanctioned or not, can be a good thing. We’re supposed to live in a civilized society, not the gladiator days of old. I hope that those reading this will take the time to contact their legislators- we need to let them know this is not the way for New York to behave.