New York MMA bill stalls in Albany again

By Travis Eldridge

June 19, 2013 Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 8:36 PM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) With a large number of members in the Assembly Democratic Conference still against legalizing mixed martial arts in New York, another year will pass without a vote.

New York is now the only state to ban the sport after Connecticut passed legislation to allow professional MMA bouts earlier this year.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D- 123rd), who says she supports legalizing the sport, said there were too many Democratic Assembly members against the move in the conference to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"It's frustrating. We had a very long debate in the Democratic conference about bringing this bill out for a vote, and honestly half of the conference is opposed to this bill," Lupardo said. "It's very difficult to put a bill out there when you don't have the support."

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, a fighting organization, continues to advocate for the legalization of the sport. Throughout this legislative session, the UFC has brought numerous fighters and celebrities to Albany to speak on the sport's behalf.

Lupardo believes the organization has made headway, but thinks it's going to take even more persuasion for several of her colleagues.

"I think they need to focus on the sporting nature of this, and that it is not any more or less dangerous than boxing or football, which many of my colleagues were raising those points. It's just a fundamental misconception of what this is all about. I can appreciate how people feel when you look at this, it's not something I particularly enjoy looking at, but other people do."

The UFC's answer to the ban has been to instead have fights in places like Newark, N.J., or Boston, but those arenas don't have the same appeal as Madison Square Garden. That's one of the reasons the organization will continue to fight.

"We're a fighting organization, we'll keep on fighting. It's still not a question of if, it's a question of when," said Marc Ratner, vice president of regulatory affairs for the UFC. "If not this year, we'll keep fighting for next year. It's going to happen, I feel very strongly about that, and we'll just keep coming up there, talking to the legislator's and educate them. We're not giving up."

A similar sentiment was shared by Lupardo, who still thinks it's a realistic possibility the bill passes next year.

"We came very close this year, closer than we ever have. Again, I think it's just a matter of time. I would not be surprised if we can finally get this going next year."

The six-month 2014 legislative session begins the second week of January.

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