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UFC, Garden would host MMA - when legal

UFC President Dana White speaks during a news

UFC President Dana White speaks during a news conference for UFC 115 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (June 10, 2010) Credit: AP

Mixed martial arts is still illegal in New York, but that did not stop Ultimate Fighting Championship and Madison Square Garden Thursday from announcing its commitment to hosting an event.

UFC, the premier organization for MMA, would host two events annually in the state, with a pay-per-view card at the Garden being the main draw.

"Our job over the last 10 years has been to crush those misconceptions and educate people as to what this sport is all about," UFC president Dana White said. "There's absolutely no reason it shouldn't be in the state of New York."

An updated, independent economic study by HR & A estimated a $23-million impact for the state, $11.3 million of which would come from an event at the Garden. An event in Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse or Rochester could create $5.3 million in economic activity.

Opposition to MMA stems from its violent nature and bloody imagery. Yet, in 20 years, there has never been a death or serious injury in the UFC. "What is the state government protecting its people from?" said UFC chairman and chief executive Lorenzo Fertitta.

The bill passed the State Senate last June but stalled in the Assembly. MMA is legal in 44 of the 48 states with athletic commissions. Of those, only New York, Connecticut, Vermont and West Virginia ban the sport.The Dolan family owns controlling

interests in MSG and Cablevision.

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