Underground fight clubs back by popular demand

interns Contributor

It’s a Sunday afternoon at a boxing gym in the heart of Brooklyn, and fighters and fans alike are gathered for the latest installment of the Underground Combat League, the City’s longest-running and often sole purveyor of unsanctioned fighting. Battles rage here and involve everything from boxing to karate, wrestling to jiujitsu, all for the sake of mixed martial arts, a sport some now prefer to call “Ultimate Fighting” but has also been labeled “human cockfighting”—or the end of civilization as we know it.

Sanctioned mixed martial arts was banned in New York State back in 1997, so it went underground. But with a bill legalizing it enmeshed in Governor David Paterson’s 2010-2011 budget proposal, and concurrent bills simmering within the cauldron of the State Assembly and Senate, the days of illicit bouts in martial arts schools and boxing gyms throughout the five boroughs are numbered. Attempting to answer the simple question of “When exactly is New York legalizing it?” hasn’t been so easy.

Currently, over 40 states allow mixed martial arts competitions, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Nevada and California. The Empire State is one of the last of the holdouts. And money talks.

Full story: A Fistful of Dollars