The UFC's campaign to legalize mixed martial arts in New York is getting an early start for 2016.
On Friday, the UFC will relaunch its website ufc.com/NY -- a grassroots effort for New Yorkers to show their support for making professional MMA a legal sport in their state.
UFC first launched the effort earlier this year for its push during the 2015 legislative session. The bill to legalize MMA passed through the State Senate for a sixth straight year, but did not reach the Assembly floor for a full vote before the session ended in June.
Several thousand New Yorkers registered for this grassroots effort last time (they do not have to re-register this time). With this relaunch, registrants can opt in to several different ways to participate in the UFC's campaign to make New York the 50th state to legalize MMA, including attending news conferences and events, contacting elected officials and using social media.
New Yorkers who do register will receive a free month's subscription to UFC Fight Pass, a digital streaming service that includes live events, an extensive library of past fights and other video content.
"We are hopeful to soon have the opportunity to host events from Buffalo to Long Island. I urge New York MMA fans -- among the best and most knowledgeable in the country -- to help make it a reality," said Michael Britt, UFC's vice president of business development and government relations. "Thanks to New York's incredible MMA fans, there is now more support in the State Assembly -- particularly among members of the Democratic Majority -- for legalizing and regulating MMA than there has ever been."
A bill needs a simple majority of the 150 Assembly members to pass. The Democratic conference has around 100 seats in the Assembly, but traditionally will not move a bill to a full vote with having the necessary 76 votes within its own party.
This past September, the UFC announced a fight card scheduled for April 23, 2016, at Madison Square Garden pending either the passage of the bill or winning a federal injunction filed against the state.
New York remains the lone state and the only place in North America with a ban on the sport. That law has been in place since 1997. Amateur MMA, however, remains legal in New York, although it is unregulated and unsanctioned by the state's athletic commission.