And like last year, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Democratic-led Assembly, where it has not been introduced for a vote.
Ultimate Fighting Championship star Jon “Bones” Jones was at the Capitol on Monday to seek support for the measure. Jones is a Rochester native who grew up in Endicott, Broome County, and lives in Ithaca.
Jones. left, said the sport would be bolstered if it were legally sanctioned in New York. He said he would help young people find a positive outlet, as it did for him.
“Since I’ve become a fighter, I’ve become way more relaxed, way more confident as a young man and way more peaceful,” Jones, 23, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, said. “It’s been great for me; It’s changed my life.”
The measure narrowly passed last year when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. It passed with broader support Monday with Republicans in control: It passed 42-18.
“We can look at it from the economic standpoint and from an opportunity for New York athletes, who can participate in their own state,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome.
Advocates have been lobbying Albany for years to pass the bill after Gov. George Pataki banned the sport in New York in 1997. Supporters said the sport has since adopted stricter regulations that have made it safer and it would be a revenue boost to the state.
But some lawmakers Monday continued to raise concerns about the sport. Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, said the state shouldn’t be encouraging a sport in which the aim is to do the “most damage possible” to another person.
Similar concerns have been raised in the Assembly. Still, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County, said he’s hopeful the measure could be adopted this year, saying it’s “a no-brainer” because it would be regulated and would provide tax revenue to the state.
Forty-five states allow mixed martial arts competitions.