ALBANY—After forty minutes of debate, an Assembly committee voted to advance a bill that would allow and regulate mixed-martial arts bouts in New York. The vote was 13 to 5.
Assemblyman Bob Reilly led the charge against the measure, making the case that “violence begets violence” and that the state should make a moral stand. He showed a video clip of Dana White, an official with Ultimate Fighting Championship, profanely berating the author of a critical sports article as a “fucking dumb bitch,” amid other choice outbursts.
Reilly’s tactics apparently didn’t work this time around–he was able to kill the bill in 2008. Assemblyman Jonathan Bing made the case for mixed-martial arts, saying it would bring necessary revenues and is very well-regulated. He also said it was no worse than boxing or other legal sports.
“I am not a fan of mixed-martial arts,” Bing said, “but I enjoy Olympic-caliber types of competition and New York State gaining the revenue to provide for its residents.”
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who voted to advance the bill, said the bouts would be far from unsupervised.
“New York State should do what it does best,” he said. “Regulate the hell out of it.”
In the end, five legislators on the Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee voted no: Reilly, as well as Assembly members Danny O’Donnell, Jack McEneny, Teresa Sayward and Marge Markey.
The measure will now go before the Assembly’s Codes Committee. It’s State Senate sponsor is Kevin Parker.