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New York State Assembly legalizes professional mixed martial arts

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s Assembly voted 113-25 Tuesday to legalize mixed martial arts, clearing the way for fights late this year and expanding the combat sport into the last state to still prohibit it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports legalizing the combination of wrestling, kickboxing and judo. The state Senate has already passed the identical measure.

Critics call MMA too violent and like football and boxing prone to causing concussions and head injuries. Some said it inspires domestic violence and invites children to imitate it.

“This is barbaric and it should be banned,” said Assemblyman Charles Barron, a Brooklyn Democrat. “It goes too far for your entertainment.”

Provisions were added to reduce opposition, including raising the insurance required for fighter injuries to $50,000 and to $1 million for life-threatening brain injuries. It requires insurance of $50,000 for the estate of an athlete fatally injured.

Advocates say it has evolved from rougher early days with more rules to protect fighters, who are trained professionals. Meanwhile, it’s on television, and fighters train and amateurs already compete in New York in unregulated bouts.

Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, the lead sponsor, said the law will authorize the state to oversee the amateur bouts as well. “What we seek to do is essentially take the sport out of the shadows in New York,” he said.

Conducted inside a cage or other enclosure with a referee present, MMA fights end when one fighter quits or gets knocked out or when judges decide after 15 or 25 minutes of fighting who the winner is.

The Assembly left the ban intact for years over fears that the sport was too violent. A Democrat-controlled chamber approved MMA in 2007, then subsequently balked. The Republican-controlled Senate, initially reluctant, has voted to legalize it for seven straight years.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Queens Democrat who chairs the tourism committee, said she initially opposed MMA after running into a group of destitute ex-boxers. Added protections for fighters have made it “palatable, at least to me at this point in time,” she said, though said later she still has reservations.

The committee voted 15-5 for it.

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, an Albany Democrat, noted those changes but voted against it, citing its violence and growing evidence of serious brain injuries and concussions in football and boxing.

“In football, concussions can be incidental to the game. Here, it is more part of the sport,” she said.

One early opponent was UNITE HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers’ union, publicly citing American Medical Association opposition and the potential social costs of teens imitating fighters. One consistent advocate is Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport’s largest U.S. promoter, whose backers are major owners of nonunion Station Casinos in Las Vegas.

UFC has its eyes on hosting a major fight card late this year at Madison Square Garden and predicts there will be other professional shows next year in Brooklyn, Buffalo and smaller cities.

“I do support mixed martial arts because it’s also an economic generator,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday in Niagara Falls. The state would collect 3 percent of gross receipts broadcast rights, not to exceed $50,000, and 8.5 percent from gross ticket receipts, as well as licensing fees.

Fighters wear small, fingerless gloves and little else. They punch, kick, elbow, grapple, knee, trip, tackle, slam and choke each other inside a cage.

The legislation puts MMA under the control of the State Athletic Commission, which regulates professional boxing with drug testing, officials and ringside doctors. It would have to prepare to do the same for MMA. The legislation, once signed by Cuomo, would take effect in 120 days, giving the commission time to issue rules and set up staffing.

The measure authorizes the state to study potential funding mechanisms for long-term care of fighters who develop degenerative brain conditions.

New York’s longstanding insurance minimums have been $7,500 for pro boxer and wrestler injuries and $100,000 for an athlete killed.

Miocic the betting favorite against dos Santos on the UFC 211 odds

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Stipe Miocic lost his previous fight against Junior dos Santos, which gives him a point to prove in the co-main event at UFC 211 on Saturday.

Miocic is listed as the -140 favorite against dos Santos, the +110 underdog, in their UFC heavyweight betting matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The title fight will cap off the card at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The two went the distance in December 2014, but bettors should keep in mind that dos Santos needed nearly-perfect takedown defense to get the win by decision. Miocic will be conceding some quickness, but his well-honed grappling and ground-and-pound technique give him an excellent chance of avenging that defeat.

Miocic, being the champion instead of the challenger, might also have the psychological edge as the champion; he can pick his spots and avoid the inherent risk of a slugfest with an excellent technical fighter.

In the co-main event, reigning women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a -185 favorite on the UFC 211 betting lines against Jessica Andrade (+150). There’s a distinct possibility of this being a mostly stand-up fight, which would work in favor of Jedrzejczyk, who is taller and has the reach advantage against Andrade.

Jedrzejczyk’s penchant for pace and volume also means she’ll get tougher as a fight progresses. If Andrade is to win, it will likely have to be through a quick submission.

Jorge Masdival (-130) is a slight favorite against Demian Maia (even money) in a welterweight bout. Masdival is a superb striker and his recent TKO victories against Donald Cerrone and Jake Ellenberger put those skills on full display. However, Maia, with his aptitude for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, can take that away from an opponent, as he’s won six matches in a row. The ageless Brazilian has enough in the tank to go five rounds.

Frankie Edgar (-140) is favored against Yair Rodriguez (+110) in a featherweight match. The lines might reflect the boundless respect that Edgar commands among fight aficionados, but both the height (five inches to Rodriguez) and age (Rodriguez is 11 years younger) differences might be daunting for Edgar. Rodriguez’s reach advantage might negate the edge Edgar has in boxing and wrestling. Rodriguez is on an eight-match win streak, with four of his last six wins having come by decision.

Krzystof Jotko (-160) is the favorite against David Branch (+130) in a middleweight tilt that was bumped up due to a withdrawal. Jotko is 6-1 in the UFC. While his only loss was by submission, his most recent win against Thale Leites saw him display excellent sufficient defense, which might be a good omen in a matchup against a grappler such as Branch.

Underdogs have won in 40 of 84 fights, or 49 per cent, so far this year in the UFC.

 

UFC 2010 odds: Cormier slight underdog vs. Johnson on betting lines

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The notion that a knockout artist is generally more appealing than a wrestler in the UFC might play into the shifting odds for the co-main event for UFC 210.

Although he lost in their first light heavyweight title bout, Anthony (Rumble) Johnson has shifted to being the -125 favorite against -105 slight underdog Daniel Cormier, the reigning champion, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their rematch will cap off the card  at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York on Saturday.

Cormier opened as a -120 favorite with Johnson at -110, but the latter, as one of the hardest hitters in the Octagon, constitutes the classic irresistible force. Johnson only needs one great shot to decide a fight and the law of averages would dictate that the more he sees of Cormier, the better his chance to land it.

That said, Cormier can get the fight to the mat and to the cage and force Johnson to expend a great amount of his energy getting free.

The co-main event is a veritable toss-up, with Gegard Mousasi listed at -120 on the UFC 210 betting lines against ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman, who has a price of -110. The lines might be a bit reputation-based, but Mousasi has won four consecutive fights whereas Weidman has lost his last two. Mousasi also has a methodical approach that should serve to keep him out of trouble against Weidman, who in both of his losses fatigued when he wasn’t able to dominate early.

Welterweight Patrick Côté is a -160 favorite against +130 underdog Thiago Alves, who’s something of an enigma due to a 17-month layoff. Both prefer the standup game, but the match might turn on who uses his wrestling effectively, and that’s more likely to be the bigger Côté. Alves, at age 33, still has the speed to deliver devastating kicks.

Coming off a loss in his last bout, lightweight Will Brooks is a -240 favorite against +190 underdog Charles Oliveira. While Oliveira’s failures to make weight as a featherweight are well documented, Brooks has had the strength to go up a weight class to welterweight. The favorite should have a wrestling and strength advantage that will serve to negate the aggression of Oliviera, who is a good striker.

Women’s strawweight grappler Cynthia Calvillo is a -270 favorite against +210 underdog Pearl Gonzalez, who is making her UFC debut. Calvillo, who also won at UFC 209, is a rising prospect who has finished three of her four opponents by submission since turning pro. The 30-year-old Gonzalez’s best qualities are her wrestling and submission game. With Calvillo’s relative inexperience, this bout has upset potential.

Through the first three months of the year, there were 27 underdog victories in 87 UFC bouts, or 31 percent, according to OddsShark.com. Underdogs won at a 36.8 percent rate in 2016 and 38.5 percent in 2017, so one should expect the current rate to rise over the course of the year.