For the seventh time in the past six years and the second time this year, the state Senate has passed a bill to lift the state’s ban on professional mixed-martial arts bouts.
The Legislature’s upper chamber voted 49-13 in favor of a newly revamped bill that would legalize the violent combat sport while setting up a $50,000 accident insurance requirement for fight cards and allowing the state Athletic Commission to regulate amateur fights.
The bill now heads to the Assembly, which has long been the roadblock to New York becoming the 50th state to allow the sport on a professional basis. But supporters of the legislation are hopeful the insurance-related changes could help garner support in the Democrat-led chamber.
The Legislature’s 2015 session is scheduled to end Wednesday, though many expect it to be extended through the week.
“We negotiated and got the promoters to agree: This now will cover amateur mixed-martial arts as well as professional boxing,” Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, Oneida County, the bill’s sponsor, said of the insurance provisions. “It’s a step forward, as indicated by the discussions we’ve had here and concerns that had been raised by members.”
Various officials and fighters from Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport’s largest and most-popular promoter, have traveled to Albany repeatedly over the years in an effort to lift the ban. Various women’s groups, religious organizations and some labor unions have pushed back.
Nine Democrats and five Republicans voted against the bill, including longtime MMA critic Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan.
“Its’ going to kill you, and it’s probably not the greatest activity to spend your time having fun with non-professionally and not a really great career move professionally, even if you think you’re having a good time now,” Krueger said.
She continued: “I’ll be voting no, and yet I will say I am less uncomfortable if this becomes the law of New York state than the previous versions we have debated here on the floor.”