Chris Weidman, top, of Baldwin, N.Y., fights Jesse Bongfeldt, of...

Chris Weidman, top, of Baldwin, N.Y., fights Jesse Bongfeldt, of Kenora, Ont., in a middleweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 131. (June 11, 2011) Credit: AP

After a while, baby steps add up.

The fight to legalize mixed martial arts in New York took another step closer to becoming a reality Monday afternoon, passing the Assembly's Codes committee by a vote of 17-3.

"We're thrilled," said Marc Ratner, the vice president of regulatory affairs for UFC, the world's largest MMA promotion. "Next up will be Ways and Means."

One committee member present voted against the bill, and the other two dissenting votes were cast via absentee ballot. Ratner said there was little to no debate or discussion in the committee when the bill came up for a vote.

Ratner was joined in Albany by former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who is from Niagara Falls.

“Today’s overwhelming vote in the Assembly's Codes Committee proves mixed martial arts continues to enjoy the type of bipartisan, widespread support we've seen in communities across the state," UFC president Dana White said in a statement. "Small business owners and cities upstate and downstate who will reap millions in new revenues and long-time, dedicated fans are looking forward to a full Assembly vote and the day MMA finally comes to New York.”

White had an editorial published in today's Daily News, by the way.

The bill passed through the Tourism committee last week by a vote of 16-3, after passing the senate last month via a 42-18 vote. Ways and Means is the next step before a full Assembly vote. That's the commitee where this legislation stalled last year.

Of the 48 states with athletic commissions, 45 deem the sport legal. Only New York, Connecticut and Vermont ban MMA. Alaska and Wyoming do not have athletic commissions to regulate the sport.


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