For his first bill as the city's freshman state senator, Andres Ayala has proposed legalizing and regulating mixed martial arts in Connecticut.
Ayala just has to win over the two most powerful members of the Senate who killed last year's effort.
Despite support from legislative committees and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, and Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, blocked a similar bill from coming up for a vote during the 2012 session in Hartford.
"I was not privy to any Senate conversations last year. I don't know all of the details as to why it did not happen," said Ayala, who at the time served in the House. "I'll have conversations with them to explain my point of view -- why it's important and means something to the city."
For Ayala, co-sponsor Rep. Charles "Don" Clemons and arena operators, the argument is a simple one. All but a few states, including New York, have legalized mixed martial arts, which combines jiujitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kick-boxing and wrestling.
If Connecticut joins the majority the bouts will draw additional crowds to the Webster Bank Arena and Bridgeport's downtown restaurants and bars. That equals dollars pumped into the local and state economies. A prior legislative analysis estimated Connecticut could earn up to $316,000 a year from licenses, permits and taxes.
Charles Dowd, vice president of operations at the arena, expects mixed martial arts would be at least as popular as the World Wrestling Entertainment shows the attraction hosts.
"It's the thing," Dowd said.
Looney and Williams have both expressed concern over the violence of the sport.
Williams last year said after listening to mixed martial arts advocates talk about safety precautions he viewed a particularly bloody fight on YouTube.
"After that we were, needless to say, not convinced," Williams said.
Clemons argues some people find football distasteful.
"With the passing of this legislation it would fall under regulatory measures that would adhere to safety regulations and concerns," Clemons said.
Looney and Williams were also influenced by the Connecticut AFL-CIO, which opposed the 2012 mixed martial arts bill because of union clashes with the industry in Nevada.
Looney in a brief interview Thursday said he looked forward to learning if his concerns have been addressed.
"I'm willing to take another look at it," Looney said.