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MMA-like event coming to Yorktown Height

Even as the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, the state of New York still has yet to host its first sanctioned bout.

So on Aug. 1, when Alpha Combat MMA in Mahopac and USA Karate in Patterson team up for an amateur event for local fighters to showcase their skills, it won’t be the same as in other states.

With MMA bouts still not legalized in New York, the contests at Solaris Sports Club in Yorktown Heights will include separate matches for kickboxing and grappling.

Sam Stern, owner of Alpha Combat MMA and one of the organizers of the event, said he hopes the state legislature will act in 2010 to sanction MMA events such as the one next month so the sport can continue to attract new participants and fans.

“MMA has taken off because of a decade-long effort by the coaches, students and fans to grow this sport,” Stern said.

Stern has been an MMA fighter since age 13, beginning with Kuk Sool Won, and he has studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since age 20, before dabbling in Muay Thai for the past two years. But while Stern is an accomplished mixed martial arts fighter, he maintains the role of coach/promoter for his gyms and his sport. He and other MMA gym owners have opted to work together to promote the sport and get events, such as the one in August, off the ground.

Stern’s gym opened in January with just 10 members. Today he has two gyms, with more than 70 members, male and female, ranging in age from 12 to 60.

Mahopac residents Eric Cintron and Evan Rivera are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Cintron, 30, has been studying MMA for more than nine years, and he will be competing in the kickboxing competition on Aug. 1.

Rivera, 13, got his start less than a month ago, and he has no prior martial arts experience. He won’t make his competitive debut until later.

One of the scheduled combatants at the event is Trenton Cooke, a 24-year-old from Peekskill and an up-and-coming all-around MMA fighter. Cooke’s specialty is grappling, and that is what he’ll be competing in at the Aug. 1 event.

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