MMA Beaten by Assembly
May 8th, 2012

Yesterday Assembly Democrats decided not to advance a bill that would legalize and have the state sanction mixed martial arts. The Senate has passed the bill a number of years only to see it stall in the Assembly. One of the bill’s most outspoken opponents, Assemblyman Bob Reilly has announced his retirement this year and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was torn about the legislation so boosters thought this might be their year.

They were wrong. In a closed door meeting yesterday the bill was shelved–meaning it won’t come to a vote this year. The Ultimate Fighting Championship–the largest organization that puts on MMA fights and has a television contract with FOX–said the Assembly was acting in an “un-American” fashion.

The controversial sport where men and women use multiple types of martial arts to knock each other out, submit each other with jiu jitsu or win on points, is now legal in every state except New York and Connecticut. The UFC has promised that the state will reap major financial rewards and see tourism boosts in west and upstate New York where the economies are flagging. But the UFC’s real goal is to hold an event at Madison Square Garden. Such an event would be seen as a coming out party for the UFC as a legitimate, mainstream sport.

How important is it to the UFC? The merchandise stands at the I-Zod center in New Jersey where they held an event this past weekend were stocked with shirts that read UFC NYC in a fashion aping the classic red and black RUN DMC shirts.

Madison Square Garden has made it clear that they want UFC to come to town. But legislators like Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari say the sport is “brutal” and goes against the anti-bullying and messages of tolerance. However the UFC insists the struggle to have the sport legalized in New York is actually tied to labor unions in Las Vegas that are upset with the UFC’s owners the Fertitta brothers who also own Station Casinos.

By on May 8, 2012, 4:15 pm
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