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NYers split on legalizing MMA, survey says

George Sotiropoulos of Australia punches Dennis Siver during

George Sotiropoulos of Australia punches Dennis Siver during their lightweight bout at UFC 127 at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia. (Feb. 27, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Less than half the people surveyed in the New York Sports Poll think mixed martial arts should be legalized in New York State, a survey released Tuesday by the Siena Research Institute indicated.

Only 39 percent of the 801 adults surveyed at random via telephone between Feb.22-March 1, 2011, are in favor of legalizing it, while 41 percent think it should remain banned.

“Majorities of men, those age 18 to 34 and avid sports fans support MMA, while older New Yorkers and  women are most opposed to the sport that supporters insist would generate fan interest, and be an engine of economic development,” Dr. Don Levy wrote.

Cheer up, MMA fans. While that 39 percent may seem small, the gap between those in favor and not in favor is minuscule. Mix in the 3.5 percent margin of error and, voila, you're ahead in the polls.

Also, digest these surveys like a glass of water. In the same survey, Derek Jeter was voted the greatest New York athlete ever. Somewhere, Babe Ruth is doing a double-take. And Carmelo Anthony was seventh on the list. Seriously. Seventh. After 11 games. He was one spot ahead of Lou Gehrig and two ahead of Jackie Robinson.

We're just guessing here, but with UFC president Dana White, chief executive Lorenzo Fertitta and fighters Frankie Edgar, Matt Hamill and Renzo Gracie in Albany on Tuesday to meet with legislators, this survey won't go too far in swaying legislative minds one way or the other.

Below is the exact wording of the question used in the survey and the breakdown of responses, as provided by the Siena Research Institute. Each demographic is broken out into its chart.


Mixed martial arts, known by some as cage fighting or ultimate fighting. Supporters say it should be legal in the state of New York. Mixed martial arts or MMA is already legal in many states and if legal here in New York would generate fan interest, direct revenues and would be an engine of economic development.  Opponents say MMA is dangerous, even barbaric and we should not allow such a violent sport to be practiced here in New York.  Do you side with the supporters of MMA or with the opponents?

Males Females
Side with supporters 39 53 26
Side with opponents 41 34 47
Don't have enough information 19 23 25
Refused 2 2 3


Suburbs Upstate
Side with supporters 41 5 26
Side with opponents 40 34 47
Don't have enough information 18 23 25
Refused 1 3 1


35-49 50-64 65+
Side with supporters 64 42 30 14
Side with opponents 20 42 48 60
Don't have enough information 16 15 20 26
Refused 0 1 2 1


Black Latino Other
Side with supporters 38 42 59 25
Side with opponents 42 36 27 54
Don't have enough information 20 19 13 15
Refused 1 3 1 5


$50-100K $100K+
Side with supporters 41 53 26
Side with opponents 36 34 47
Don't have enough information 21 23 15
Refused 2 1 0


Involved Casual Non-fan
Side with supporters 59 43 30 29
Side with opponents 31 40 45 43
Don't have enough information 10 16 23 23
Refused 0 1 2 5


See the entire New York Sports Poll report here.


New York Sports