Jon Jones waits for the fight to start against Vitor...

Jon Jones waits for the fight to start against Vitor Belfort during the light heavyweight championship title bout at UFC 152 in Toronto. (Sept. 22, 2012) Credit: AP

Mixed martial arts inched a familiar step closer toward legalization in New York State on Monday when it passed through the Senate's Finance Committee.

The bill that establishes protocol for professional MMA bouts to be held in the state for the first time since 1997 moved to the Senate floor agenda for Tuesday. It is listed in the bills on order of special report section of the agenda and could come to a vote Tuesday or Wednesday. It passed through the Senate's Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee last Thursday.

This should come as little surprise since the Senate has passed this bill each of the past three years and by an increasingly wider margin each time.

Legalizing MMA in New York must still be voted on by the Assembly, where it has stalled in one committee or another the past three years. It has never been brought to the floor of the Assembly for a full vote.

"Once New York legalizes and regulates MMA, outstanding UFC fighters like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones -- born in Rochester, raised in Endicott and living in Ithaca -- and middleweight contender Chris Weidman -- a proud Long Islander and Hofstra graduate -- will be able to fight in front of their hometown fans," UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement last Thursday. "And scores of other UFC fighters, including Olympic medalist and bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, will finally be able to show off their skills for their New York fans live and in person."

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