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New York MMA Bill on Life Support in Final Scheduled Day of Legislative Session

Madison Square GardenThe possibility of sanctioned mixed martial arts in New York in 2011 is effectively on life support after the state Assembly's Ways and Means committee left a bill which would regulate the sport off its agenda for its last scheduled session.

Monday is the final day of the Assembly's 2011 legislative calendar, and the committee filed a full listing of 26 bills it intends to vote on, but Bill No. A04146 authorizing mixed martial arts events is not one of them.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated the possibility of extending the legislative session past Monday, but that would likely be to handle legislation of major importance such as tax issues and rent control. MMA would not be expected to be included in any special session.

Despite easily passing through votes in the state senate, the Assembly's Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development committee as well as the Codes committee, the bill's chances to make it into law have looked bleak since early June, when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said there does not appear to be "widespread support" for the legislation.

Assemblyman Dean Murray, a co-sponsor of the bill, showed that wasn't entirely accurate by producing a letter of support signed by 60 members of the Assembly.

There are currently 146 members in the Assembly, so an MMA bill would need 74 "Yes" votes to pass into law in an up-and-down vote. MMA Fighting has identified 66 total members that have voiced support for the bill, meaning only eight more members would have to join the group to legalize the sport.

But the bill never made it that far, stalling in the Ways and Means committee. It faced an uphill climb there as well, after its chairman Herman Farrell voiced his own personal distaste for the sport.

"I don't think very much of the sport," he recently said. "Next we'll give them clubs with spikes on the end; that will be good."

At least 12 members of Farrell's Ways and Means committee have disagreed with him and indicated support for the bill. The UFC also sent executives and athletes to the state capitol in an attempt to educate and influence the vote, but seemingly to no avail. Barring any last-second miracles, the process will begin all over again in 2012.

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