MMA bill passes Senate; support grows in Assembly

MMALawmakers fighting to legalize mixed martial arts in New York have taken the first step towards making that desire become a reality. Earlier this month, the Senate voted 48-14 in favor of a bill (S.5949-a) to legalize the combat sport in the Empire State.

Seventy-two members of the Assembly have signed as a sponsor of the same-as bill (A.2604-c) to legalize mixed martial arts. Seventy-four votes are needed to pass a bill as three seats are currently vacant.

For mixed martial arts fans, this could be a reason for hope that MMA will finally be legalized in New York after it was first outlawed in 1997 by Gov. George Pataki. There is also reason for cautious optimism, because fans have seen this story before.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee has introduced a bill (A.1529) that would impose “A two year moratorium on the conduct of mixed martial arts events in the state and requires the commissioner of health to conduct a comprehensive health study to determine the dangers of mixed martial arts.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included language calling for the State Athletic Commission to legalize the sport in his 2016-2017 budget proposal. The budget is due March 31 and has been on-time for the last several years.

Cuomo has been quoted in the past saying MMA could benefit the economy, especially upstate, by creating jobs and generating tourism dollars.

“We are very pleased that, as part of his budget proposal, Governor Cuomo has called for legalizing professional MMA in New York…and has asked the State Athletic Commission to regulate both professional and amateur MMA,” said UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. “It’s the right thing to do for fans and more importantly, it’s the right thing to do to help protect the health and safety of athletes.”