It's one battle the UFC can't seem to win. Despite the governor and the Senate's expressed support, New York State won't legalize MMA. Sport leaders say their fans haven't stopped fighting to change that and Tuesday, UFC fighters visited Albany to thank them for their support. Erin Vannella reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "We came here like two years ago and it wasn't like this, maybe 30 people," said UFC Fighter Dennis Bermudez. "And now they came up here after we'd been signing for a half hour and told us there were 75 people and I was like wow."
Four UFC fighters met hundreds of fans outside the cage, the only place where they're legal in New York State.
"That's unfortunate," said Bermudez. "I would love to be able to fight and have these guys say I saw you last week when you fought here in New York."
The State Senate has voted to regulate mixed martial arts. The Assembly hasn't. But if a crowd midweek at a Capital Region UFC exhibition is any indication, the sport and its fans won't give up their fight.
"It's not as barbaric as some others want to make it seem, but I'm happy that they're here," said Schenectady resident William Couvertier. "It's a good thing they're doing and I hope it gets to that point where we can fight at home."
"It's a dream come true," said Brookfield, Connecticut resident Adam Reiter. "I've been a fan for about five years now. I got into it kind of late but I've been waiting for the UFC to come here for forever."
UFC leaders said the sport would be healthy for the economy and the kids. Forty-eight other states made it legal, they said, why can't New York?
"Martial arts teaches some very positive things," said UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. "Kids need to be respectful. They have to have honor. They have to be disciplined. So getting our kids involved in martial arts at a young age is actually a good thing. Ultimately, we think it is actually a positive."
"I've only been stopped by people to say man, what you're doing is awesome," said Bermudez. "I think you're great. I've never had anyone come up to me and say I think what you're doing is terrible."