The New York Daily News is reporting that 35 Assembly Democrats have signed a letter opposing the legalization of MMA that was delivered to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The Daily News says that the MMA bill would be unlikely to pass unless 76 Democrats support it. With 35 Democrats opposing it, that only leaves 69 potential yes votes.
Republican Assembly members could provide the necessary seven votes, but the Daily News says it is unlikely the MMA bill will be brought to a vote unless it has enough Democratic support to pass.
The Democrats say they oppose legalizing MMA because they see it as "brutal and barbaric," according to the Daily News. The letter also says that UFC fighters have promoted violence against women and homophobic views.
Professional MMA events are currently legal in 48 other states. A bill was approved by the Connecticut legislature and is currently waiting to be signed into law.
Mixed Martial Arts is a combination of karate, kickboxing, judo, wrestling and taekwondo. Professional events for all of those sports are legal in New York â?? it is only illegal to combine them.
The Republican led New York State Senate has passed bills that would legalize MMA events in New York in each of the past four years. Each year, the bill has been clocked by Democratic leadership in the Assembly and has not even come up for a vote.
Democratic Assemblyman Al Stirpe recently appeared at a press conference with UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta and said he supports legalizing MMA events in New York. Stirpe expressed frustration that the MMA bill was not brought to the Assembly floor for a vote.â??If it made it out onto the floor, you would have 90-100 votes for it,â?? said Stirpe.
Staff from Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisiâ??s Utica area office said he does not oppose legalizing MMA and did not sign the letter sent to Sheldon Silver. Syracuse area Democratic Assemblyman Sam Roberts has said he supported legalizing MMA in the past.
In a statement, Syracuse area Democratic Assemblyman William Magnarelli's office said "he can understand both sides of the debate. His position currently is that if it reaches the Assembly floor for a vote, he will vote for it." According to Magnarelli's office, he was not one of the 35 Assembly members who sent the letter to Silver.
Democratic Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton from the Ithaca area told CNYCentral that she signed the letter to Speaker Silver. Lifton said she opposes MMA because of its violent nature and that she made the decision to sign the letter on her own, without external influences. "I don't care how many states do something that I don't think is a good idea. I think New York should stand firm and not sanction a brutal sport - in fact sport is not even the right word as far as I'm concerned," said Lifton.
The UFC has said the efforts to block legalizing MMA events in New York are being led by the Culinary Workers Union from Las Vegas. UFC president Lorenzo Fertitta owns several hotels in Las Vegas that are non-union. According to the UFC, the Culinary Workerâ??s Union has been trying to unionize the 12,000 employees of the Station Casinos in Las Vegas for the past 10 years and has "launched an inaccurate and misleading smear campaign" against the UFC and its professional MMA partners.
In a statement, the UFC said the organization has worked to support community and social issues. "The UFCâ??s Code of Conduct condemns any inappropriate behavior that runs counter to its values and culture, and outlines disciplinary procedures for those who violate its terms. Further, fighters are contractually prohibited from engaging in inappropriate conduct. The UFC regularly hosts fighter summits to tackle issues of conduct and make clear the high expectations of the UFC."
He lives and trains in Syracuse but professional MMA fighter Mike Mucitelli has had to travel the country for matches. Mucitelli hoped that this would be the year the New York Assembly finally accepted mixed martial arts - but was disappointed once again.
"To see it put back in a way that really screams ignorance about the sport in its current state - it's frustrating to say the least but you've got to just keep pushing forward and hope," said Mucitelli.