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As Vote Nears, New Poll Shows New Yorkers Still Object to MMA Sanctioning

A new Siena College poll of registered voters illustrates the uphill climb of mixed martial arts in New York. With the state's legislative calendar running short on time, a bill that would legalize and regulate the sport is working its way through the state Assembly, but is expected to face opposition in various committee votes before ever getting to an up and down vote.

According to the result of the poll, New Yorkers are still not in favor of sanctioning the sport in their state. The Siena College Research Institute asked 819 people if MMA should be legalized in New York, and 55 percent of respondents answered no. Thirty-nine percent disagreed, saying MMA should be legal, and seven percent offered no opinion.

Broken down further, MMA did receive support from several demographics in the poll. Men as a whole were in favor of its passing, 51 percent to 42 percent, and so were Latinos, 59 percent of which agreed the sport should be sanctioned.

Not surprisingly, the 18-34 year-old block of voters most overwhelmingly supported the passage of MMA, with 67 percent in that camp, while only 29 percent voiced an opposing voice.

Those numbers though, were undone by larger demos. Sixty-five percent of female voters, for example, are still against MMA's passage. Other groups that voiced overwhelming objection to the sport including whites (55 percent against), African-Americans (56 percent), and adults aged 55 and over, 72 percent of whom oppose the measure. A voter's location didn't seem to matter, either. City dwellers, upstaters and suburbanites all opposed the sport by at least a 10 percent margin.

To date, the 2011 effort to sanction MMA has passed through the state senate as well as the Assembly's Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development in lopsided votes. Time, however, is running short, with the current legislative session scheduled to end on June 20.

Last week, the bill's chances took a major hit when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, considered the most powerful man in the state capitol, effectively put the kibosh on it, saying, "There does not appear to be widespread support in the Assembly for this legislation."

Despite that, MMA has yet to surrender its latest quest for Empire State acceptance. Last week, Assemblyman and bill supporter Dean Murray delivered a letter of support with 60 bipartisan signatures to Silver. On Monday morning, UFC president Dana White published an op-ed in The New York Daily News, outlining the sport's safety record and the financial injection it provides to its host cities. But given the new poll numbers, MMA's New York opponents have more ammunition in their quest to keep the sport out of their state.