The Connecticut House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state.
Introduced in January by Sen. Andres Ayala and Rep. Charles D. Clemons, House Bill No. 5277 passed in a landslide, garnering 117 votes of a possible 143. The bill will now head to the state Senate.
“I want to thank the House members who supported this bill. It’s the right thing to do for the thousands of Connecticut MMA and UFC fans, for economic development in the state and for jobs,” Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated in a UFC release. “We will now turn our attention to the Senate and urge the leadership to permit the bill to be voted upon. We are confident that if Senators are allowed to vote on the bill, it will pass with strong bipartisan support.”
A similar bill (Bill 326) was introduced last year and ultimately died when Senate President Donald Williams and Majority Leader Martin Looney declined to move it forward for a vote. Should the Senate pass this year’s bill, the document would then be sent to Gov. Dannel Malloy, who would then either veto the bill or sign it into law.
Connecticut, along with New York and Montana, remains one of the few states in which mixed martial arts is still illegal. Though MMA is legal in Alaska, the sport remains unregulated there. Despite Connecticut’s ban on MMA, many fights have nevertheless been held in the state at Native American casinos like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
“If MMA is legalized in Connecticut, it will mean jobs -- union jobs -- and economic activity for people and communities where it is desperately needed,” Sen. Ayala said in the release. “MMA is the fastest growing sport in the nation. Fans in Connecticut watch it on broadcast, cable and pay-per-view television. They travel to other states and countries to watch it live. We should legalize it here in Connecticut and attract fans from other states and countries to our communities. I will work tirelessly for the remainder of the session to try and convince the leadership of the Senate that passing this bill to legalize and regulate MMA is the right thing to do and [that] now is the time to do it.”