The New York State Senate voted in favor of legalizing mixed martial arts on Monday, marking the seventh consecutive year the legislative body has approved the bill.
It also is the eighth straight time the Senate passed the bill, having done so twice last year with the original and amended bills.
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Monday’s vote was 48-14 in favor of making professional MMA legal in New York, right in line with last year’s voting results of 47-14 and 49-13.
New York remains the only state — and the only place in North America — with a ban on professional MMA, a law on the books since 1997 when the sport was far different from what it is now.
The bill now goes to the State Assembly, where it has stalled the past six years.
There is optimism this year, though. There are 71 sponsors on the Assembly’s bill. A simple majority — 76 votes — is all that’s needed to pass. But the Democratic conference, which controls the Assembly with more than 100 members, typically won’t move a bill to the floor unless it has enough votes from the majority party to pass the bill on its own.
Perhaps the strongest reason for renewed hope by proponents is the fact that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo included MMA in his budget proposal this year. Cuomo had made positive remarks about the economic possibilities of legalizing MMA in the past few years, but his inclusion of it in the budget proposal was his most overt act of support.
The UFC is targeting November as a possible date to hold their first event at Madison Square Garden, provided the bill is passed either through the budget process or through legislation before the end of session in June.