Lorenzo Fertitta isn’t giving up the fight to legalize MMA in New York. | Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com
The bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York failed to make it into the state assembly for a vote on Thursday, and while UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was disappointed by that result, his resolve toward seeing the sport eventually break into the Empire State remains strong.
2015 brought more optimism than past years that MMA would be legalized in New York. However, the MMA bill was unable to garner the number of votes necessary to make it onto the floor of the state assembly. Had that happened, many believed the bill had a strong chance of passing.
Fertitta released a statement on Friday regarding MMA in New York. If the UFC CEO is to be believed, the battle to legalize the sport is far from over. After all, there’s always next year. Fertitta’s full statement is as follows:
While our disappointment cannot be overstated, our commitment to seeing New York legalize the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world is intact and undeterred. We continue to strongly believe that legalizing and regulating MMA in New York is the right thing for the state economically, the right thing for the millions of fans in New York and the right thing for the safety and benefit of the thousands of professional and amateur MMA athletes across the state.
UFC is not harmed by not being in New York, as much as we would like to be there for our fans and for the arenas, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses which would see substantial economic benefits from the legalization of MMA in New York.
However, the thousands of New Yorkers who engage in MMA – at the professional and amateur level – are hurt. Thousands of New Yorkers participate in amateur MMA events in the state every year, and because there is no regulation and oversight, their health and safety are at risk.
We genuinely feel bad for the hotels, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses that support our effort and have championed this cause. We also feel bad for New York’s arenas – large and small, particularly those upstate – that have worked alongside us to pass the legislation.
We want to thank Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle – a true champion – and the 73 other Assembly cosponsors who know passing this bill is the right thing to do. We will continue to work with them to educate the rest of their colleagues. And of course our thanks go as well to Senator Joe Griffo and his colleagues.
This bill has now passed the Senate seven times in the last six years with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. That’s right, strong majorities of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate support this bill. We have never had more support in the Assembly, where there is clearly enough support among Democrats alone to pass the bill and we know if we could only get a vote in the Assembly, we would see strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill.
Our disappointment with the Assembly’s failure to vote on and pass the bill has never been greater – simply because of the demonstrated support we have among rank and file legislators. However, our resolve to see this through has also never been greater.