NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Dean Murray New York State assemblyman speaks at the podium as Scott O'Neil Frankie Edgar and Dana White (L-R) look on during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Third time was not the charm for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in its quest to get mixed martial arts (MMA) legalized in New York.
Bill No. S.1707-A, which was sponsored by state Assemblyman Joe Morelle, was scrapped today "behind closed doors" by Speaker Sheldon Silver, who according to the NY Daily News more or less unilaterally decided that there weren't enough votes to send it to the Assembly floor for a final vote.
A place in which majority UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta was convinced the "Legalize N.Y. MMA" bill would enjoy "strong bipartisan support." It's an odd decision that UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner -- who was "very, very disappointed" the bill didn't get and "up-and-down" vote on the floor -- described as "un-American."
And you might think so, too, after learning about the shady situation that went down in the "Empire State" to scuttle initiative:
... after eight people had spoken in favor of legalizing MMA and eight against, Silver called on members who don't support the bill to raise their hands. About 25 members did. Then he asked for a show of hands of those who support it before saying that it looked even, the source said. An upstate member who supports the measure complained it didn't look even to her, the source said. When Silver asked what she wanted, a city Democrat joked, a "slow roll call." The speaker took another informal vote, with 25 again raising their hands against. The "ayes" seemingly had more than 60, the source said. Silver then said others had expressed opposition privately and that the votes weren't there to move the bill.
Sounds like a fair, calculating process (that's sarcasm).
New York (still) remains among the handful of states that (still) does not regulate MMA, even though the UFC has maintained a full-court political and public relations press, frequently making donations and having fighters/promotion officials speak about the economic benefits of regulation.
Not even UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones ringing the NASDAQ stock market opening bell or sending Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey to the state capitol was enough to sway the naysayers this time around.
Certainly not enough to outwork the "dirty gangsters" behind the scenes who apparently hold sway over older New York lawmakers.