Legalizing professional mixed martial arts is a topic of hot debate across New York State. Last night, the first sanctioned amateur MMA fight in Western New York drew a big crowd. YNN's Ryan Whalen reports.
NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- Hundreds piled into the Rainbow Rink in North Tonawanda, all ready for some entertaining mixed martial arts.
Spectator, Lushay Stuart said, "I like to see people fight, the blood and guts sweat and tears."
For many it's a brand new experience. The TNT Fight Series is the first MMA event in the state in more than a decade.
Spectator, Mary Richards, “This could come to be a popular sport. I mean there's a lot of people here tonight. I didn't expect it to be like this."
Don Lilly, the Event Promoter said, “It's a roller skating rink. A lot of things have went down here, but never anything like this. So it's pretty historic."
Local fighters have had to travel out of state for fights in the past. Saturday they got the chance to do it in front of a home crowd.
"I've been watching him do all this training so now I get to actually see if all the training that he's been doing will actually work. So it's a pretty good pleasure for me."
New York is one of the few states in the country which doesn't sanction professional MMA fights. A bill to legalize it recently was stalled in the state assembly.
"They're allowing us to do it under the martial art law as amateurs only,” said Lilly.
Fans said they hope people will gain a better appreciation and understanding of the sport as they get a chance, for the first time, to see it live.
Spectator, Randy Goodenow said, “Live you have more of a dynamic of what goes on. You can see the fighters in the background. On TV you can't really see that much. It's just more of a better atmosphere live."
Lilly said, “The old UFC style where guys were just fighting guys, it's totally changed. The rules have changed. I'm hoping this event tonight they really take a close look at it and will consider looking at the bill."