NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A big Ultimate Fighting Championship match at the Prudential Center in Newark this weekend is sparking excitement and new questions about New York’s ban on mixed martial arts, which some hope could change soon.

Last month, the New York Senate voted for the fifth straight year for legalizing professional mixed martial arts and ending the state’s position as the last one to prohibit the sport.

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“It’s literally legal in 49 states…all over the world. We’re doing a fight in Melbourne, Australia; everywhere except for New York,” UFC President Dana White told 1010 WINS.

The Senate bill, approved 47-14, would authorize the New York State Athletic Commission to regulate MMA as it does professional boxing.

Some critics have raised concerns fighter safety, but White said there have been no fatalities or serious injuries in MMA in this country.

“Think about this, even back in the crazy days when there were no rules or any of that, there’s never been a death or serious injury in the UFC,” White said. “Not many sports can say that, cheerleading can’t say that.”

The Assembly’s majority Democratic Conference, where the legalization bill has foundered in the past, is expected to consider it again soon.

For years, Sheldon Silver held the UFC in submission, but with the former state assembly speaker in a legal hold, the UFC believes it now has a fighting chance in New York State, 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported.

White blames the holdup on an apparent feud between a union in Nevada and his partners.

“The reason is because of the Las Vegas Culinary Union,” White said. “My partners are the Fertitta Brothers, they own Station Casinos — which is the fourth largest gaming company in the country, and Sheldon Silver was in tight with the culinary union and has held us out of New York all these years.”

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According to White, legalizing mixed martial arts would not only benefit the fighters, but also the state.

“Our reasoning for coming to New York is for safety, these fights are happening right now in the State of New York but they’re unsanctioned. Us coming into New York is actually a good thing for fighters, and it’s definitely a good thing for the state,” White said. “If we get sanctioned in New York it means $136 million a year for the State of New York.”

White hopes to see a change soon.

“Obviously the whole Shelly Silver thing is helping the situation, but it’s ridiculous that it’s been this long and we haven’t been here and I think it’s looking a lot better now,” White said.

One New York said he would pay to see MMA star Ronda Rousey at Madison Square Garden.

“That’s the toughest chick in the world,” he said. “She’s the female Mike Tyson.”

Others would be OK with the sport being legalized in New York as long as it’s regulated.

“It’s like any other sport, right? Football, boxing, as long as it has the guidelines, it has rules and you follow them it should be fine,” one man said.

“It’s like a bar brawl, it’s violent,” said one woman who added she’d be comfortable with the sport being legalized in New York as long it’s regulated.

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