The UFC's fight to legalize mixed martial arts in New York continues, and while company officials are still optimistic their dream will finally become a reality this year, there's still no word on when or if it will happen before Albany's legislative session ends in June.
Of course, last year the UFC thought it had finally broken through when, for a second straight year, the New York State Senate voted to pass a bill that would sanction mixed martial arts in the state. Unfortunately, the bill, 1707-A, never made it to the Assembly floor for a vote, for a second straight year. The bill would need a vote in its favor from both the Senate and the Assembly to pass.
If lawmakers are looking for an extra reason to finally get this done, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta recently said the organization wouldn't put on an ordinary event when they're finally allowed to make their Madison Square Garden debut.
"When we come [to New York]," he said, "we're going to blow it out. We're going to put on a ridiculous UFC 100-style card, stacked, big, open to the public weigh-ins, press conferences, after-parties, the whole deal. Everybody will be there. This is going to be an event that will remind you of 1971 when Ali fought Frazier for the first time and every celebrity in New York had to be there.
"The biggest problem that I'm going to have is going to be where to sit everybody and who gets seats and who doesn't. It's going to be crazy."
Think the UFC boss is anxious to finally put on an event in New York or what?
So let's say the bill passes in June, how quickly could the UFC hold an event at MSG, which would most certainly be the venue of choice for its return to the Empire State?
Well, the two factors to consider are how quickly the New York State Athletic Commission could adopt the appropriate MMA rules and regulations (for example, Ontario announced that it would sanctioned MMA in Aug. 2010 but only held its first event in April 2011) and the UFC's crowded events calendar.
The good news is that Fertitta said he would do everything in his power to bring an event to MSG as soon as he was able to do so.
"If it passed (by June), we would move mountains to get something done by fall."
UFC 7, which took place on Sept. 8, 1995, is the lone UFC event held in New York. The state banned the sport in 1997.