Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Wednesday said he believes New York will some day lift its ban on professional mixed martial arts, but didn’t say whether he believes it will come this year.
“I think at some point there will probably be an approval in this state,” Silver said. “I can’t tell you when.”
Silver’s comments echo those from Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, who sponsors a bill to lift the ban.
Officials from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts’ largest promoter, have lobbied state lawmakers for several years to lift the ban. While the Senate has passed such legislation several times — and is expected to again on Wednesday — the Assembly hasn’t allowed it to come to the floor for a vote.
Silver on Wednesday said Assembly Democrats, who hold a 2-to-1 majority in the chamber, will consider it in the same manner it has in previous years.
“We will take it up in conference and we will do what we think our conference thinks is acceptable,” the speaker said.
Silver again outlined his personal position on mixed martial arts: He doesn’t like it, but there’s no keeping it off television and there’s the potential of added revenue for New York.
“On the one hand I think it’s something that I personally do not approve of,” Silver said. “On the other hand, you can turn on the television at any time and it’s there and available for my children and grandchildren to watch. We can’t wall off our children from seeing this because it’s readily available to them.”
Meanwhile, UFC officials and fighters — including Ronda Rousey (pictured, bottom) and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta — are at the Capitol on Wednesday to make their case. Check back later for more.
(AP Photo / Jae Hong)