5th annual MMA World Expo at Javits Center - My9 New Jersey

5th annual MMA World Expo at Javits Center

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts gathered in the Big Apple for the 5th annual MMA World Expo. Only amateurs were allowed to compete at the event because New York continues to grapple with whether to make the sport legal in the state.

MMA is arguably the fastest growing sport in the United States.

It's currently legal in 49 states but not in New York. Supporters say 2014 is the year to change that. It was a theme the MMA expo inside the Javits Center." They say a person doesn't really know who they are until they've been in a fight.

For 23 year-old Evan Flores, finding himself on the mat helped turn his life around.. Now he's an advocate for the sport.

"I had a lot of issues in my life, drug problems stuff like that" Flores said.

“You can train in MMA. Train in individual aspects but you can't actually compete on a grand level."

Jennifer Golden with the Abu Dhabi Combat Club is one of the organizers of the amateur tournament

There’s no striking in this form of MMA combat, only grappling, such as Brazilian Jujitsu and wrestling.

She considers this element of Mixed Martial Arts a physical chess match.

“You're trying to kind of outsmart the other person. Not only are you trying to plan the next move. But plan what they're going to do as well" she said. 

The next move for legalizing MMA in NY State will happen in Albany. After 6 years of lobbying, some legislators still believe the combination of kickboxing, judo, and wrestling seen in professional formats like UFC is still too brutal and is not a good example for kids.

As the popularity of this sport grows, it’s clear the fight is far from over.

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