State Senate passes bill to legalize MMA
The latest round in the fight to legalize MMA in New York is underway at the Capitol. A bill that would open the state for sanctioned bouts passed the Senate by a 47 to 14 margin. But it’s the Assembly that's KO'ed the measure in the past. However, our Solomon Syed explains why this year might be different.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts visited the Capitol Wednesday, stepping in the legislative ring for the biggest fight of their lives. At stake? A chance to put on the gloves in New York State.
"All my friends and everyone from New York would rather it be at Madison Square Garden," said UFC Middleweight Fighter Christ Weidman.
That includes Chris Weidman himself, a native Long Islander who longs to compete for a UFC title in his own backyard.
"We're hopeful that maybe this year we'll have some success," said Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and CEO.
To do that, they'll have to change their underdog status in the Assembly. Speaker Sheldon Silver hinted at a promising scorecard Wednesday.
"If there's a revenue stream, it might as well come to New York," Silver said.
At least some of that shift can be attributed to staunch democratic opponents in the Assembly throwing in the towel last year. Still, several religious and cultural leaders sent a letter to lawmakers on behalf of union workers, urging them to uphold the current ban.
"Cage fighting is a deplorable use of brute force," said Father Brian Jordan.
But MMA supporters say it's their opponents who are fighting dirty. That it's not at all about safety, but rather about money that's prevented it from coming to a vote on the floor here in the assembly.
Fertitta said, "Somehow force our team members to become unionized, which obviously we can't do, and it is financial. They're looking for membership dues."
"The accusation is unfounded. Of course we care about safety, who doesn't care about safety," Father Jordan said.
That back and forth will continue until the Assembly reaches a decision.
"At some point, there will probably be an approval in this state,” Silver said. “I can't tell you when."