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Ronda Rousey lobbies New York to legalize mixed martial arts

(AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was in Albany, N.Y., on Monday to lobby Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s legislators to legalize professional mixed martial arts fighting in the state.

New York is the only remaining state to have an MMA ban, but with state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver out of the picture, the restriction could soon be lifted. Silver was arrested on federal corruption charges in January and stepped down as speaker soon after. The state senate has passed legislation that would legalize MMA in the state in each of the past five years, but Silver blocked the legislation from reaching the floor of the assembly.

Proponents of lifting the ban — there are bills pending in both the assembly and the senate — think they finally have a good chance at success.

“I really believe it will pass this year because … Silver, who got arrested for corruption — the fact that the guy who was arrested for corruption was against this bill is a testament that no one should have been against it at all,” Rousey said, per the Albany Times Union, at a news conference after meeting with Cuomo, whom she called a “cool guy,” in his Capitol office. “If the corrupted guy didn’t want it to pass, then I would like to be on the other side of that.”

As the Times Union points out, amateur MMA fights are legal in New York, which Rousey says is dangerous.

“There’s no kind of testing, there’s no kind of blood testing to make sure the athletes are safe, there’s no kind of drug testing,” Rousey said. “It’s so dangerous that something needs to be done about it. They need to be regulated. They need to be protected. They’re really being neglected right now.”