Business, Central New York, Sports

MMA Showing Potential in Syracuse

Inner Circle BJJ is one of the two featured MMA facilities in Syracuse.


Despite some opposition in the Democratic controlled Assembly, supporters are hoping New York will be the 50th state to legalize professional MMA.

By Sean Robson LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (NCC News) — Professional Mixed Martial Arts is legal in 49 out of 50 states New York is the only outlier. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is hoping to change that.

For the seventh consecutive year, the New York State Senate voted in favor of passing a professional MMA bill. Supporters are now hopeful because, for the first time, New York legislators have set aside a portion of the state budget. The vote now goes to the State Assembly; a group that has never voted on this issue.

While New York City can host large events in Madison Square Gardens, Syracuse also has a lot to offer MMA. Inner Circle BJJ owner and head coach Walter Johnson believes Syracuse is the next city MMA could gain a foothold.

“It’s interesting because Syracuse is actually one of the hot-button cities that they want to host in, so Syracuse specifically because it’s so well positioned close to Canada, they’re looking for Syracuse to host some really big events which would be pretty interesting for the Syracuse Community,” Johnson said.

Legalized MMA fighting in New York would also give local talent a chance to stay local. Undefeated amateur fighter Kevin Soto travels outside of New York to compete, but believes it would be much easier to compete within the state while making the transition to the professional level.

“I’ve been doing amateur MMA for a while and I’d like to finally go pro and it’d be nice to finally fight in my home state and not have to go somewhere else.”