MMA Bill in New York Does Not Go to Vote in State Assembly

Matt Juul@@MattchidaMMAContributor IIIJune 19, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13:  Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and CEO, speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Sadly for fight fans in New York, it will be at least another year until professional mixed marital arts is finally legalized in the state.

Newsday reported on Tuesday that the bill to sanction professional MMA in New York would, for the fourth year straight, not be going to the State Assembly floor for a full vote.

According to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a noted opponent of the bill, the decision to exclude the bill from the current legislative session's agenda was made after a meeting of the Democratic Conference on Tuesday night.

“The conference has asked not to put it on the agenda,” Silver revealed to reporters at the state's capital. 

In March, the New York State Senate once again approved the bill to legalize and regulate the sport, passing by its widest margin ever. However, it failed to gain support in the Assembly, despite having 64 sponsors.

"We also feel bad for New York's arenas—large and small, particularly those upstate—that are struggling and have worked alongside us to pass the legislation," UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement. "I guess New York's loss will continue to be New Jersey's, Massachusetts', Pennsylvania's and Toronto's gain."

Earlier this month, both the state of Connecticut and the entire country of Canada lifted their bans on the sport, making New York the last place in North America where professional MMA is illegal.

Connecticut's state Senate voted 26-9 in favor of regulating the sport while Canada's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly for a provision that would legalize MMA under the country's criminal code.

New York remains the last hold out on the continent mostly due to opposition from several women's groups who claim that MMA is misogynistic as well as the Culinary Union of Las Vegas, whose long-standing feud with the Fertitta brothers over their labor practices has halted any progress within the state for the sport.

“This year’s new, absurd, offensive and completely erroneous charge used to justify the defeat of MMA legislation was that MMA is anti-woman and leads to domestic violence," Fertitta said. "This is a deception fabricated by a Las Vegas union that is recklessly and callously trying to use an important societal issue to try and punish the UFC. It isn’t honest and doesn’t work."

For the sake of New York fight fans, I hope that 2014 will be the year that officials will finally drop the politics and bring MMA to the Empire State.


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