Gov. Paterson is pushing to legalize ultimate fighting in New York, claiming the unrestrained mixed-martial arts events will make a quick buck for the state's troubled economy. If he gets his wish, the cage fighting exhibitions, which have been banned in the area since 1997, could take place not only in upstate arenas but in Madison Square Garden.

The controversy over the Brazilian-inspired fighting championships began when John McCain called the blood sport "repugnant" thirteen years ago. The practice was banned in 36 states, including NY, and some reforms were adopted. The UFC introduced weight classes and gloves and made kicks to a downed opponent, hair pulling, fish-hooking, headbutting, and groin strikes illegal. The championship also dropped its "There Are No Rules!" tagline.

Now proponents claim that the PG-13 version of the ultimate fighting is appropriate and necessary. "A study done in 2008 by the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization estimated one event would generate $11.5 million in economic activity in New York City and $5.2 million in Buffalo. Ultimate Fighting Championship estimates there could be two or three events a year in New York," according to the NY Daily News. Paterson is slated to propose the legalization in his January 19 budget announcement.

Still, not everyone is ready to get in the ring. Assemblyman Bob Reilly opposes the legalization but would accept it if gladiators made an effort to fight fair. He told the Times Unions he's "considering introducing a compromise bill that would legalize the sport while requiring it to be less violent, perhaps by making it illegal for a fighter to hit an opponent when he's down and limiting the use of elbows."