If ever anyone was hopeful that the final state in the union would sanction mixed martial arts, it was in 2015. The UFC even had Madison Square Garden on reserve for a date in December.
But it wasn’t to be.
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The New York legislative session is expected to close with Tuesday’s votes, and once again, the bill to legalize professional mixed martial arts dies without being called for a vote on the assembly floor.
It’s not that the bill’s sponsor didn’t believe there were enough votes for passage, but that the bill didn’t come up for a vote during the regular session. The New York State Assembly is currently in overtime, trying to deal with a flurry of important bills, but MMA doesn’t appear to be one of them.
With the Assembly about to shut down, there are several members that aren’t physically present to vote, and that left MMA bill sponsor Joseph Morelle doubting the bill’s passage, even if it were brought up for a vote.
“My big challenge today is that a number of members who are counted as supporters were just unavailable today because of the scheduling, that we weren’t expected to be here this long,” Morelle, the Assembly Majority Leader, told told Gannett’s Albany Bureau on Tuesday.
“And it’s really complicated efforts to get to 76. I think it’s looking less likely as the day wears on.”
The 76 that Morelle mentioned is the number of requisite democratic votes the bill needs to pass the Assembly. Before the regular session ended, Morelle believed he had the necessary votes for passage, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie didn’t get the bill on the agenda.
Going into overtime made it extremely difficult, but Morelle is confident that he will eventually get MMA legalized in his state; it just doesn’t appear that it will be this year.
“So we’ll keep working, and I’m confident that the next time we reconvene, I’m going to redouble my efforts,” Morelle told Gannett.
The corruption in NY politics is DISGUSTING!!!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) June 25, 2015
The battle for legalization in New York has been plagued by a battle between UFC co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and the powerful Culinary Union. The Fertittas also operate several non-union casinos, which the Culinary Union has been fighting tooth and nail to get into. They have used their political leverage in New York to stall legalization of MMA, trying to force the Fertittas’ hand in the casino business.
It’s something that doesn’t sit well with UFC brass, especially company president Dana White, who didn’t appear to buy into the “ran out of time” excuse.
“The corruption in NY politics is DISGUSTING!!!!” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday after everyone started to sound the death knell for MMA in New York this year.
MMAWeekly.com will keep you up to date if there are any last-minute surprises, but at the time of publication, it appeared that any hope for MMA legalization in New York during this legislative session was gone.