State Assembly not voting on legalizing Mixed Martial Arts, NY only state to prohibit the sport

Efforts to legalize professional mixed martial arts in New York have foundered again with the state Assembly's Democratic leaders refusing to allow a vote on the measure.

The bill, passed by the Senate earlier this year, had 63 sponsors in the 150-member Assembly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he's not opposed.

Michael Whyland, spokesman for the Assembly Democratic Conference, says there was not enough support within the conference.

New York remains the last state to prohibit the sport after Connecticut approved similar legislation.

Backers, saying they remain undeterred, argue that it's already widely seen on television in New York and practiced in gyms around the state, including unregulated amateur competitions.

The bill would legalize and regulate it. Opponents say it promotes and glamorizes violence.

Earlier this month, The New York Daily News reported that 35 Assembly Democrats signed a letter opposing the legalization of MMA, which was delivered to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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.

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.

Syracuse area Democratic Assemblyman William Magnarelli's office says he did not sign the letter to Silver and that he would support it if it came to the floor for a vote. Syracuse area Democratic Assemblyman Sam Roberts has said he supported legalizing MMA in the past.

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.

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.

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.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)