Nicki Jhabvala
Thursday June 12th, 2008

After speaking with the legislative director to New York State Assemblyman and Chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development, Steve Englebright, on Thursday, SI.com has learned the legislation to sanction mixed martial arts in the state has not been defeated, but will be revisited and up for a re-vote June 18 at 9:30 a.m.

Elizabeth Nostrand confirmed the bill did go up for vote, but "as the meeting was breaking up, some of the members wanted to change their vote. But the members were leaving and not everyone was there when they wanted to change their vote. For ethics, they decided to lay the bill aside for re-vote Wednesday [June 18]."

When asked about the overall consensus of possible sanctioning of MMA in New York, Nostrand said it is likely that the bill could still pass the committee, thereby quashing any speculation of the bill's complete defeat.

Rumors have spread that UFC President Dana White's "major announcement" could have been in relation to the sanctioning of the sport in New York. The announcement, originally scheduled to be released June 12, was debunked by White during his appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch two days prior. There he announced the licensing agreement between the UFC and JAKKS Pacific, Inc. to create action figures for the promotion.

Currently, MMA is sanctioned in 35 states, including some of the largest and most populated in the country -- California, Nevada, New Jersey -- and Washington, D.C. Among those that have yet to allow the sport, New York and Massachusetts are the two major players.

A similar bill passed through Albany in 2006, but it ended up dying once it reached the hands of the Senate.

Thought MMA barred some brutal tactics from the start, like eye-gouging, the sport's move toward greater mainstream acceptance came after Arizona Sen. John McCain labeled the sport "human cockfghting." Since then, after after UFC 13 in May 1997, more rules, as well as weight divisions, have been adopted.

And such acceptance has grown at a tremendous rate, earning MMA the reputation as the fastest-growing sport in America. According to MMAFacts.com, the UFC raked in $2.8 million in average gate revenues in 2007, while television coverage has grown an average of 390 percent over the past four years in terms of monthly TV programming featuring the sport.

In other states, numbers have shown to boost the surrounding economy significantly. Approximately 40 percent of the 8,000 spectators at UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio, last year were from outside the state. According to the Ohio Athletic Commission, the event drove in $11 million in external economic activity for the city.

Such numbers have caught the eye of billionaires businessmen Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, who both have stake in the sport. Trump recently bought a significant equity stake in Affliction Entertainment, a company known primarily for its clothing, but which has recently delved into promoting mixed martial arts events. Its debut card Affliction: Banned, set for July 19, will be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. In speaking to the media about his latest endeavor with Affliction, Trump told a room of reporters, June 5, that the push for MMA legislation in New York -- the state he started his real estate empire and has commonly been associated with -- has been stagnant on his part primarily because the sport has shown to produce tremendous revenue and following in the less populated states it's sanctioned.

If legislation passes in New York, Trump, and many others, may be looking at the start of a changed MMA landscape. But, if Albany turns down the sport, this could be the start of a heated push for sanctioning in the northeast.

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