Mixed martial arts off to fast start in New York state

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Professional mixed martial arts is off to a rollicking start in New York, seven months after officials ended the state's long-standing prohibition on the sport.

New York state was the nation's only remaining holdout when it came to hosting professional bouts. That ended in April, when lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to repeal the ban following extensive lobbying by promoters and stars such as Ronda Rousey.

The law authorizing the sport took effect in September.

A handful of bouts have already taken place around the state, but a UFC event Saturday at Madison Square Garden is expected to be the sport's true coming out party in New York.

The president of MMA promotor Bellator says the group is hoping to hold an event at the Garden next year.