On July 25, the New York State Assembly Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee got one step closer to finally legalizing the sport of MMA in "The Empire State" when Governor David Paterson appointed Melvina Lathan as chairperson of the New York State Athletic Commission.
Lathan has an accomplished background in boxing, having judged 235 professional boxing matches, including 82 title fights.
While many boxing professionals (and purists) are quick to denounce the sport of mixed martial arts, Lathan isn't one of them.
From Lathan's interview with the Newark Star Ledger:
"I believe that at some point (MMA) will have to be sanctioned in New York. Obviously, I can't say as much as I would like to say because it really happens through the legislative process here, and I don't want to say anything that will hinder its progress. But I feel positive because it is a fast-growing sport and one of the most popular sports. It is an intense sport, it is a difficult sport, but it is so different from boxing. I believe that there is room for the two sports, but you can't compare them. A lot of people are afraid of what they don't know. If they were more educated about sport ... it would be easier for them to accept it."
Lathan is set to assume duties at the beginning of 2009, when current chairperson Ron Scott Stevens finishes his five-year term.
While it's refreshing to hear her enthusiastic approach, she does recognize that most New York lawmakers suffer from an education deficit. To help rally the cause, the UFC is leading the charge with some of its more popular NY-based fighters to help spread the word.
Enter former UFC welterweight champion Matt "The Terror" Serra.
Alongside disciples Pete "Drago" Sell and George Sotiropolous, Serra came to the UFC 88: "Breakthrough" viewing party last night at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club in New York City to help further the cause.
"I'm a New Yorker, so of course nothing would make me happier than fighting in my home state. I like going to Vegas as much as the next guy, but its crazy to think that some antiquated law is keeping us out of a place like Madison Square Garden. You know the kind of money [Manhattan] could make with a UFC pay-per-view? Look what they did at the Target Center. We got some passionate fans here and we would blow the roof off this place."
Serra has been one of the driving forces behind MMAfacts.com -- a Web site the UFC recently set up to help legalize the sport of MMA. Part of the movement is to get MMA fans to visit the site and send an INTELLIGENT and COHERENT email to their local legislator calling for action.
Well, what are you waiting for?