Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship is getting closer to its goal of seeing legalized mixed martial arts fight events in New York.
UFC, the MMA fight show promotion, production and media company, is “cautiously optimistic” that the state Assembly will approve an MMA bill after the state Senate passed the proposed legislation Tuesday, said Steven Greenberg, a UFC spokesman working on the MMA bill issue in New York.
The bill was amended by both houses over the weekend. The bill passed by the Senate Tuesday night matches the current version of Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle’s bill in the Assembly.
Morelle’s bill could potentially reach the floor of the Assembly by the end of the week.
“That is our fervent hope,” Greenberg said Wednesday.
Morelle’s communications director, Sean Hart, said “we’re optimistic at this point” that the Assembly will vote on the MMA bill.
Hart said language had to be cleaned up regarding concerns about long-term safety issues such as disability insurance in the event a fighter was seriously injured.
Plus, the bill specifies that MMA fight events will come under the jurisdiction of the New York State Athletic Commission, which regulates boxing events.
If the Assembly passes the MMA bill, it would go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law. Cuomo, who met UFC star Ronda Rousey this past year when Rousey was in Albany lobbying for legalizing MMA, has expressed his support in the past for making the sport legal in New York.
It’s the sole state in the U.S. that does not allow MMA fight events.
UFC has been lobbying the Empire State for years to allow sanctioned MMA fights. In past years, the state Senate has approved MMA legislation only to have former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver not allow the bill to come before the Assembly for a vote.
But Silver resigned as speaker this year after he was arrested on federal corruption charges in January. Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie, a former MMA bill sponsor, became speaker.
There are 74 MMA bill sponsors in the Assembly — 56 Democrats and 18 Republicans.
The state session was scheduled to end Wednesday, but it’s expected to be extended to the end of the week.
Heastie could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Find him on Twitter: @BicycleManSnel