Yesterday, the New York State Senate approved their version of a bill that would allow sanctioned professional MMA in a state that has banned such competitions since 1997. But don’t pop the champagne and celebrate just yet – this marks the fifth year in a row the Senate has done so, and it means little when the other half of New York’s legislative body, the Assembly, does nothing with their version of the bill.
Unfortunately, year after year, the Assembly has refused to debate the merits of the sport on the floor, instead letting the annual bills die in various committees. As for why this is so, proponents have at times blamed Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who was MMA’s most vocal opponent for years until he retired, and they’ve blamed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who controls the legislative traffic that can see a bill progress or languish. Fingers have also been pointed at the Culinary Union for exerting influence on politicians and hurling mud at both the UFC and the sport as a whole.
Thus far in the 2014 legislative session, the Assembly has given little indication that sanctioning MMA is an issue worth much attention.
Said UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in a released statement:
“We once again thank the State Senate – Democrats and Republicans – for giving overwhelming approval to legislation to legalize and regulate MMA in New York State, the last place in North America where professional MMA remains illegal.
“The attention turns yet again to the Assembly. Hopefully the Assembly will finally recognize that enacting this law is the right thing for the millions of fans, the right thing for ensuring the safety of amateur and professional MMA athletes, the right thing for tourism and economic development, the right thing for the arenas and the union jobs they provide.
“I have no choice but to be cautiously optimistic. Mr. Speaker, make 2014 the year this gets done.”