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Author: SuperUser Account/Thursday, April 19, 2012/Categories: General

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NIAGARA FALLS—A pair of Niagara Falls lawmakers from opposing parties won the backing of a
unanimous County Legislature Tuesday to urge Albany to stand up for Niagara Falls-born mixed martial
arts champ Rashad Evans and become the 49th state to legalize the popular fighting sport.

Evans, currently the no. 2-ranked fighter in Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts
competition, is the former world heavyweight champion. Saturday, he will seek to reclaim his title,
squaring off against Jon Jones, a native of Endicott, N.Y.

Ironically, even as two Upstate New Yorkers seek the top spot in MMA competition, they’ll have to duke
it out in Atlanta. A title bout at Madison Square Gardens or Buffalo’s First Niagara Center—or even a
downtown Niagara Falls venue—is not possible because New York remains one of only two states that
bans the increasingly popular sparring contests.

Niagara County Legislators Chereé J. Copelin, R-LaSalle, and Owen T. Steed, D-Niagara Falls, think that’s
wrong, and asked their colleagues to join them in calling on Albany to do what every other state in the
Union except Vermont has done: legalize MMA.

Within hours of the resolution’s passage on the floor of the Niagara County Legislature, a state Senate
bill that would lift the legal barriers to MMA passed that chamber Wednesday by an overwhelming 43-14
margin. Companion legislation remains stalled in the Assembly, however, although some observers are
optimistic about the bill’s chances this year in the lower chamber.

“We hope New York state will follow the lead of other states and lift the ban on mixed martial arts, that’s
costing our state potentially millions of dollars by missing out on events that could be happening here,
but instead are happening in places like New Jersey and Pennsylvania—and Atlanta,” Copelin said.

Copelin has hard numbers to back up her claim. A UFC-funded study suggests that by holding just two
professional MMA events a year—one at Madison Square Gardens and one at the First Niagara Center—
New York could realize $16 million in additional revenue from UFC events alone.

That study found that a UFC event in New York City would generate $11.3 million in net new economic
activity, with $5.3 million in direct event spending, $1.4 million in non-lodging visitor spending, and $4.6
million in spinoff benefits. The 2011 study found that a UFC event in Buffalo would generate $5.2
million, with $1.7 million in direct event spending, $1.4 million in visitor spending, $2.1 million in spinoff

The study also notes that the MMA events would create 138 new jobs.

Audio: Copelin calls for legalizing MMA fighting in NY

Audio: Steed calls for bringing Rashad Evans home to fight

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