Professional mixed martial arts, or MMA, cage fights combine striking like karate and muy thai, with grappling like jiu jitsu and wrestling.
UFC's MMA pay-per-view fights are more popular than boxing. The fights are legal to hold in every state in America except one: New York.
The fights began with few rules in 1993. Professional MMA bouts were called human cock fighting by Sen. John McCain. Now MMA has rules to protect contestants like timed rounds, no groin attacks, or kicks to the head of a downed fighter. McCain has dropped his opposition.
The top MMA sport organization, UFC, had a study done which showed New York would get $135 million a year if MMA bouts were allowed in places like economically depressed upstate New York and Madison Square Garden, where the group held a news conference Thursday.
One reason for the economic impact: more MMA schools would open like Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu two blocks from the Garden.
New York's Senate has approved professional MMA bouts but the Assembly has not.
Those who report on the the sport of professional MMA fights say one reason it's not legal in New York may be that everyone already thinks it is legal. For example, Times Square often has a huge billboard advertising MMA fights.
But Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee of Rockland County issued a statement calling MMA fighting profitable barbaric entertainment that harms the fighters and "harms women who are victimized by the glorification of distorted masculinity that cage fighting represents."
State Sen. Brad Hoylman of New York City opposes the bouts because fighters have no health or retirement benefits.
Since 2000, 100 boxers and three MMA fighters have died, although it is hard to compare because boxers far outnumber MMA fighters. But not for long: MMA is the fastest growing professional sport in the world.
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