ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Senate voted again Monday to legalize professional mixed martial arts, though its prospects remain uncertain in the Assembly, where legislation similar to a bill that died quietly last year is pending in a subcommittee.
With new Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, a Rochester native, on hand, the Senate voted 42-18 for the bill authorizing the New York State Athletic Commission to regulate the mix of boxing, grappling, judo and kickboxing the way it regulates boxing.
Sen. Joseph Griffo, a Utica Republican and sponsor, said 45 other states have sanctioned the popular sport that has evolved from its rough early days with rules and protections for fighters. He said it will generate money for the state with events at New York venues.
"I think it's time to take this sport out of the shadows and into the professional arena," said Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat.
Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, voted no, saying injuries to fighters in other states appears underreported and that the sport is a bad example for children. She said studies have shown that so-called "ground and pound" punches, where a fighter punches an opponent already on the ground, can result in bruising blows, some at 910 kilograms of force.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 205-pound Jones, 23, known for stunning strikes with his elbows, met several senators with a gentle handshake before the vote.
"Sen. Larkin wants a piece of you," Sen. Martin Golden joked, introducing his Republican colleague and World War II veteran, William Larkin.
"OK," Jones said, smiling, but Larkin just bent his ear after that.
Jones has a 13-1 record, the only loss from a disqualification to another upstate fighter, Matt Hamill (10-2) now from the Utica area. Hamill is scheduled to fight one of the sport's stars, Quinton Jackson (31-8), on Saturday in Las Vegas. Jones said he'd like to see Hamill win but he thinks Jackson will, and that he may fight the veteran after that.
Asked if he was worried about it, Jones said no and smiled the same way he did for Larkin.