The Senate Finance Committee, led by state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, approved legislation that would legalize mixed martial arts in New York.
The Finance committee is the second Senate panel to approve the measure. The Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee passed the bill last week.
The bill passed the committee with 21 ayes, eight ayes without recommendation, seven nay votes and state Sen. Ruben Diaz was excused.
All three of Cayuga County state senators — DeFrancisco, state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford — are members of the Senate Finance Committee and all three voted for the bill.
The legislation, S2755, would allow MMA to be regulated in New York. According to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), New York would become the 49th state to legalize mixed martial arts.
If the state adopts the MMA bill, UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said New York natives would finally be permitted to fight in their home state.
"Once New York legalizes and regulates MMA, outstanding UFC fighters like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones — born in Rochester, raised in Endicott and living in Ithaca — and middleweight contender Chris Weidman — a proud Long Islander and Hofstra graduate — will be able to fight in front of their hometown fans," Fertitta said in a news release Thursday. "And scores of other UFC fighters, including Olympic medalist and bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, will finally be able to show off their skills for their New York fans live and in person."
The full Senate will now have a chance to vote on the MMA bill. The Senate has passed the legislation before, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver didn't bring the bill to the Assembly floor for a vote.