The bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York passed through the State Senate's finance committee on Wednesday, as expected.

According to a source, the vote was 29-8 in favor of lifting the ban on professional MMA events. It could go to the floor of the Senate for a vote as early as next week. Support for the bill is strong in the State Senate, where it has passed by a wide margin each of the past five years.

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Amateur MMA remains legal in New York and unsanctioned and unregulated by the state's athletic commission. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joseph A. Griffo (R-Rome), seeks to legalize MMA and have it be sanctioned and regulated by the commission just as boxing is.

DatabaseLong Island's UFC fight history

Opposition to the bill has come in the State Assembly in past years. However, new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was a sponsor of the MMA bill in past years. He since has removed his name as a sponsor on all bills after replacing Sheldon Silver as Speaker. The Assembly's companion bill, sponsored by Joseph A. Morelle (D-Rochester), has 64 sponsors on it as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the legislative body's website. A simple Assembly majority -- 76 votes -- is all that is needed to pass a bill.

New York is the only state that continues to ban the sport.