Mixed martial arts raised its hand Wednesday in New York, as a bill to regulate the sport in the key state passed with majority approval through the state assembly's Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports.
Bill 2009-B, which places the regulatory duties of the sport back in the hands of the New York State Athletic Commission, passed with a 14-6 vote. The state’s Codes Committee will now review and vote on the proposal’s legal implications. It is expected to then move right to the assembly floor for its final vote.
“It’s never gotten this far before,” said Michael Kim, a representative from the office of Assemblyman Steven Englebright, who both sponsored the bill and chaired the committee. “This is quite a first victory for the sport in the state.”
The sport has not come without its detractors in the Empire State, which banned the sport in 1997 under a bill signed by Gov. George Pataki.
In recent years, Assemblyman Bob Reilly has been the bill’s the most vocal opponent.
“I don't think we should show that to kids," Reilly, a former track coach, told AOL Fanhouse this week. "We don't want that in our schools. We legislate bullying and domestic violence all the time, but how can kids tell the difference when they're seeing it on TV, as a legitimate sport?"
On Tuesday, Reilly addressed the committee for 20 minutes. Reilly illustrated his belief that the sport was both unsafe and of a seedy element with a video that included footage from the November 2008 heavyweight title bout between Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture, TUF veteran Corey Hill’s gruesome leg break from a charity event last December, and UFC President Dana ‘s profanity-laced rant against a reporter last April.
A timetable for the bill’s remaining passage has not been set.