ALBANY, N.Y. — New York ended its ban on professional mixed martial arts – the last hold-out in the nation – opening the cages for major fights in its big venues and lower-level scraps across the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the move as a boost to the state economy as he signed the law Thursday at Madison Square Garden, ringed by Ultimate Fighting Championship ex-champions Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman, a Long Island native.

“Madison Square Garden is the international icon for great sports events,” Cuomo said on Thursday. “The economics that go along with the sport are undeniable.”

The UFC, the sport’s largest promotion, which broadcasts shows on Fox television and major events on pay-per-view, announced plans at the signing to hold its first New York show Nov. 12 at the Garden.

The law doesn’t take effect until September, giving the New York State Athletic Commission time to add two members, adopt regulations, train staff and begin licensing promoters, trainers and fighters.

The sport’s violence drew opposition from some lawmakers and proposals from others to better protect fighters, who wear small gloves and engage in a combination of kickboxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, often inside a cage or other enclosure.


Provisions added to the law raise the insurance required to $50,000 for fighter injuries, a $50,000 death benefit and $1 million for life-threatening brain injuries, and it authorizes the state to study potential funding mechanisms for long-term care of fighters who develop degenerative brain conditions.

It’s also designed to bring the amateur sport, which has grown unregulated across the state, under state-authorized supervision.

The UFC lobbied hard for years to convince state politicians to legalize it, bringing marquee fighters like Jon Jones and Rousey to Albany’s Capitol.

“I believe there will be packed houses,” said Liam McGeary, an English expatriate who lives in Brooklyn and is the professionally unbeaten light heavyweight champion for Bellator MMA.

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