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Cage fighting comes to the Aud

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Memorial Auditorium held its first Mixed Martial Arts fight Friday night. The fight was at the amateur level, organizers hope it won't be the last, and that someday the professional level fighters can get in the cage in New York State too.

"Since back in the 70's and 80's when it was normal to have a Friday night boxing event here in the Aud, we're trying to give them the same Friday night fight night but we changed the style from boxing to mixed martial arts," said Frank Cristiano, owner of Heavy Hands Productions.

It was the second fight Cristiano organized, last July he held one in Rome.

Local, regional and even some fighters from Toronto and Texas took part.

"It's amazing to be able to show everyone what MMA is and what Martial Arts is," said Dylan Smith, a fighter from Vestal, New York. "A lot of people think we're just out there and fighters and are rough guys but a lot of these guys we get in there fight in the ring we get out and we're friends after."

Currently MMA fighting is banned in New York State, however amateur MMA fighting is not.
If MMA were to become legal, organizers say it would bring even more people to the Aud.

"For professional MMA, you're talking the highest level which is UFC right now, they'll draw between 15-18,000 (people) to up to 50 - 60,000 depending on the venue that they use," said Cristiano. "And I'm trying to follow in that step in providing something safe but something that's a great entertainment value for fight fans."

The bill to allow the professional Mixed Martial Arts in New York State passed in the Senate earlier this year, it is now moving through the Assembly.

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