The Ultimate Fighting Championship, known for its bloody brawling, is trying to K.O. a state ban on the sport, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan.
The UFC claims that keeping mixed martial arts illegal in the state violates the First Amendment.
"All the disciplines that go into mixed martial arts are performed live in New York," said Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman of UFC's parent company, Zuffa LLC. "It is only their combination that is illegal. Denying fighters the chance to [compete] before a live audience ... is not only an injustice to them, but to the local markets that would reap tremendous economic benefits."
A bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York stalled in the Assembly last June after passing the Senate.
Zuffa purchased the UFC in 2001 and adopted the unified rules of mixed martial arts. Before that, it was basically anything goes, with very few rules guarding fighter safety. It was under that setup that former Gov. George Pataki banned it in 1997.
The UFC is suing the state attorney general and Manhattan district attorney, who both declined to comment.