Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MMA is still not legal in New York, but Dana White revealed Saturday night after UFC 155 that crossing his fingers, he not only had a date, but a theme and a main event planned for a debut in Madison Square Garden.
White said his plan was to run the UFC's 20th anniversary show at the world's most famous arena which would be some time in November 2013.
"We have a date," White said after completion of the press conference. "And we have a match."
White wouldn't elaborate further on the idea, nor would he as he had in the past, predict this will be the year they are allowed into the state.
Running an event would be pending the state legislature passing a bill early next year that would legalize the sport. For several years, it's been a regular pattern. The UFC gets a bill written, sends fighters and officials into the state to speak with various legislators, seems to get a warm reaction, but ultimately, the bill always ends up stalling somewhere.
Last year it didn't even get to a vote, even though Marc Ratner, the UFC's Vice President of Regulatory Affairs believed they had enough votes to pass the bill, which made things even more frustrating.
White reiterated the problem, a political game that gets sillier with each passing year, the Las Vegas branch of what White called "the scummy gangster Culinary Union."
The battle is that the Culinary Workers union are at odds with the Fertitta Brothers, who own 81 percent of the UFC stock, and also run the Station Casinos chain, which is non-union.
In the battle to unionize the workers, which thus far has failed, it has resulted in the union targeting UFC. The battle is not just limited to blocking them in New York, but there was also an attempt to convince FOX to cancel its seven-year contract which fell on deaf ears.
New York is different from almost every other state because in 1997, two pieces of legislation were passed. The first legalized MMA under the athletic commission, and after doing so, the old owners of UFC scheduled a show in Niagara Falls.
In a very different era of how UFC was viewed, it was not on any television and there were differences in the rules, a lot of influential media was aghast at the idea the sport was coming to the state, and blamed the legislature for allowing it.
Running for cover, the same forces who passed the first bill quickly introduced a second bill, to ban it outright, which was also passed.
While few remember, UFC did run one event in the state in Buffalo in 1995. It was an event that went off with minimal controversy.
Madison Square Garden has been behind previous bills that have stalled to get UFC into the state. Instead, the company has run across the state border, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., for some major events in recent years.
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