MMA fans, fighters and executives rejoiced yesterday when it was announced that the New York Assembly had passed a bill to legalize MMA in their state. Now, with just a small number of small hurdles left to clear, the sport is painfully close to becoming officially legal in the ‘Big Apple’.

As well as the UFC planning a momentous event at NY’s world-famous Madison Square Garden arena towards the end of the year, rival promotion Bellator are also jumping on the bandwagon and look like they might even be able to slip into the state before the UFC.

“The New York Assembly’s vote to legalize MMA is a watershed moment for this incredible sport,” said Bellator president Scott Coker. “As someone who has been promoting combat sports for more than 30 years, this is a very exciting time for mixed martial arts. We at Bellator MMA are very much looking forward to hosting an event in the ‘Crown Jewel of America,’ New York.”

If Coker’s promotion can secure a date with a smaller venue than MSG before the last quarter of 2016 then it’s entirely possible they could steal the record for first ever major MMA event in New York from under the UFC’s nose. And it looks like Coker already has a couple of potential headliners in mind for his first NY show.

“Two Bellator champions, Liam McGeary and Marcos Galvao, call New York home and I know it means a great deal to the both of them, as it does for the entire promotion,” Coker said. “We’ve already been in contact with the great people at the Barclays Center and several other incredible venues, and we can’t wait bring our world-class athletes and action-packed shows to an arena in the Empire State soon.”