Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC), the largest promotion company for mixed martial arts, this week filed a lawsuit in federal court against New York State, seeking to overturn the ban on MMA events in the Empire state. Citing the First Amendment, the lawsuit seeks to legalize MMA in New York by comparing it to an art form like dance or theater.
Since 1997, when the sport was originally banned in New York, it has been sanctioned in all but five states and has found a home on network television. UFC has been petitioning New York's legislature for years, but after a recent bill legalizing MMA died in committee, they finally took the matter to court.
Arguments in the 123-page complaint include:
- The risks associated with MMA are common to many sports, and may even be lower than sports like boxing and hockey
- MMA is already widely available on television in New York
- The individual martial arts that constitute MMA are widely practiced throughout the state
- Banning MMA infringes fighters' right to express themselves on some of the world's largest stages, like Madison Square Garden
- The message of MMA isn't barbaric violence. Instead, MMA communicates the values of skill, courage, self-discipline and hard work
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