A renewed push is underway to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State, and some believe that if a vote were held, the bill would finally pass. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
New York is the only state in the union that outlaws the sport known as mixed martial arts, or MMA.
A bill to legalize it has passed the state Senate four times, only to die in the Assembly.
"You can't treat one set of sports one way and another sport another because you don't understand it or because you don't agree with it," said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas of Queens.
Each year, supporters of MMA come to Albany to lobby for the bill's passage, and on Thursday, the same promoters held a press conference at Madison Square Garden.
They were joined by two Democratic members of the state Assembly, which is significant, because critics say that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver personally opposes it.
"It's not that one man is stopping it. It's that we haven't reached the requisite number that he needs to get it out on the floor," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi of Queens. "And I guarantee you that once we gets those votes, once we have the 76, that's the magic number, Shelly will put it up for a vote."
Speaker Silver said through a spokesman that no determination has been made, but Albany insiders say that there should be enough support for legalizing MMA in the Assembly this year. Supporters say it will generate $135 million in economic activity for the state.
However, some believe it's just too violent.
"MMA is one of the most violent sports I have ever observed, and many researchers in other countries say that I am absolutely right," said state Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan.
Others say that Democratic lawmakers are bowing to the culinary union, which is pressuring them to vote "no" based on the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"Me and my brother own a large casino company in Las Vegas that happens to be the only non-union casino company in Las Vegas, not by our choices, by the choice of our team members," said Lorenzo Fertitta of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he is willing to sign the bill, which puts the onus right back on the Assembly, which has so far refused to allow a vote.