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Sports Report: MMA On It's Way To Legalization In NY

Pic of MMA fighters

MMA:

New York's Assembly has voted to legalize mixed martial arts, clearing the way for fights in state arenas late this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports legalizing the combination of wrestling, kickboxing and judo. The state Senate has already passed the identical measure.

New York is the last state to prohibit the sport, which critics call too violent and like football and boxing prone to causing concussions and head injuries. The bill subjects MMA to State Athletic Commission regulation.

Added provisions that reduced opposition will raise the insurance required for fighter injuries to $50,000 and to $1 million for life-threatening brain injuries. Advocates say it has evolved from rougher early days with more rules to protect fighters. Meanwhile, it's on television, and fighters train and amateurs already compete in New York.

MLB:

In a landmark game attended by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cuban national team 4-1 in the first visit by a major league team to the communist island since 1999. The near-capacity crowd at Estadio Latinoamericano roared as Obama and Castro entered and walked toward their seats right behind home plate, waving to fans and greeting other dignitaries.

The New York City Council has passed legislation that would ban the use of smokeless tobacco products at all ticketed baseball stadiums, sports arenas and recreation areas. Similar bans have already been enacted in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco ballparks. Both the Mets and Yankees have said they support the ban.

NBA:

In the NBA, Charlotte beat Brooklyn 105-100, Oklahoma City bested Houston 111-107, Miami topped New Orleans 113-99, and it was the Lakers over Memphis 107-100.

The NBA clearly loves L.A. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed the All-Star Game is returning to Los Angeles in 2018. Staples Center will host the annual midseason basketball extravaganza two seasons from now. Los Angeles also hosted the All-Stars in 2004 and 2011 at Staples Center. The Los Angeles area will host for the sixth time overall in three arenas.

NHL:

In the NHL, Buffalo edged Carolina 3-2, Tampa Bay tripled up Detroit 6-2, Montreal skated past Anaheim 4-3, Columbus beat Philadelphia in a shootout 3-2, Washington doubled up Ottawa 4-2, Winnipeg blanked Vancouver 2-0, Dallas bested Chicago 6-2, Minnesota won against Los Angeles 2-1, Arizona topped Edmonton 4-2, and it was St. Louis over San Jose 1-0.

The Colorado Avalanche say top scorers Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon will miss the next two games with knee injuries. The pair won't play against the Flyers on Thursday or against the Wild on Saturday. The Avs are currently one point behind the Wild for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

NFL:

The chop block has been entirely outlawed from NFL games, and extra-point kicks snapped from the 15-yard line are now permanent. NFL owners approved both those proposals by the competition committee and also passed a resolution to expand what is a horse-collar tackle to cover the nameplate on the back of jerseys.

Running back Alfred Morris is switching teams within the NFC East. Morris, who was a four-year starter for the Redskins, has inked a two-year deal with the Cowboys. Morris racked up 4,713 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns in 64 games with Washington. In eight games against Dallas, he ran for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.

Elsewhere around the NFL:

— The Kansas City Chiefs may have to do without star pass rusher Justin Houston next season. He has undergone surgery to repair the ACL in one of his left knee and there is a big window for his possible return. If all goes well, he could be back in mid-August. However, if there are setbacks in his recovery, he could miss the entire upcoming season.

— Ravens Coach John Harbaugh says the team has an "unofficial agreement" with free-agent running back Trent Richardson. Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings he's been exchanging texts with Richardson and expects to sign him. The 25-year-old Richardson has been a disappointment as a pro since he was selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 draft by Cleveland. He has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and has run for 2,032 yards and 17 touchdowns in 46 career games.

— The 49ers have signed left guard Zane Beadles to a three-year contract after he was released March 3 by Jacksonville in a move to create salary cap space. He's a durable offensive lineman who has started all 16 games in each of the past five seasons. The 29-year-old Beadles will help fill a void after Alex Boone's departure to the Vikings in free agency.

NCAA:

Steve Pikiell has been introduced as Rutgers new men's basketball coach, vowing to continue his trend of turning around struggling programs. Pikiell compiled a 119-48 record over the past five seasons at Stony Brook.

Alec Peters scored 20 points for his seventh straight 20-plus game and Valparaiso advanced to its first NIT semifinals with a 60-44 victory against Saint Mary's. BYU is also going to Madison Square Garden for Tuesday's NIT semifinals after the Cougars beat Creighton 88-82.

Georgia standout Dominique Wilkins and Doug Collins of Illinois State headline the eight-member class that will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. Wilkins played three seasons for the Bulldogs before embarking on a standout NBA career, making nine All-Star games while playing for the Hawks, Clippers, Celtics, Spurs and Magic.

Malcolm Mann's buzzer-beating layup as time expired gave Mid-America Christian its first NAIA national championship with a 100-99 victory over Georgetown of Kentucky.

Soccer:

The U.S. women's soccer team has called up 17-year-old forward Ashley Sanchez for the first time before two exhibitions against Colombia. The U.S. will train in Orlando, Florida, for six days before heading to its match against 25th-ranked Colombia on April 6th in East Hartford, Connecticut. The teams meet again April 10th in Chester, Pennsylvania.

©2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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