A bill that would lift New York’s ban on professional mixed martial arts is being sponsored by 64 Assembly members, 17 more than had lent their name to the legislation last year.
The bill, introduced in the Assembly last week, would need just 12 additional votes from non-sponsors in order to pass the chamber. But that’s no guarantee that it would come to the Assembly floor; Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has not committed to bringing it to a vote.
It was introduced on Thursday by Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, who first picked up lead sponsor duties last year.
“We are optimistic that with (Morelle’s) support, guidance and leadership, this will be the year that professional MMA is legalized in New York,” Lorenzo Fertitta, CEO of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said in a statement.
The UFC, the sports’ largest promoter, is the main proponent of lifting New York’s ban, which dates back to 1997. Several labor groups and faith organizations have been outspoken critics, however, calling on the Assembly to keep the ban in place, in part because of the violent nature of the sport.
The bill would allow professional bouts and would require the state Athletics Commission to regulate them. A series of taxes and permit fees would also be implemented.
Here’s how the Assembly sponsorship breaks down:
33 from New York City
10 from Long Island
7 from the Hudson Valley
14 from upstate
(AP Photo/Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruce Asato)