Debate in Senate begins anew on whether to make sport legal in New York
By Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
ALBANY — Advocates of mixed martial arts say this is their year.
What has become a perennial debate at the Capitol will kick off this week when a state Senate committee takes up a bill that would legalize the spectator combat sport popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship league. New York and Connecticut are the only states that ban professional bouts, though amateur fights have taken place in various parts of the Empire State.
A corps of senior legislators, mostly Democrats in the conference that dominates the Assembly, has blocked professional MMA fights because of moral objections and, according to the sport's backers, as a result of a dispute between the UFC's owners and a Las Vegas labor union. But as the UFC celebrates its 20th anniversary later this year, its fans and backers emphasize that MMA bouts are now well-regulated and an increasingly mainstream attraction, having crept from pay-per-view to broadcast networks.