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UFC's Marc Ratner on New York legalization: 'I didn't see thank yous from our competitors'

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UFC vice-president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner believes his company has earned the right to hold the first legal mixed martial arts event at New York's Madison Square Garden, given all the resources the company put into rescinding the state's ban on the sport.

But he also believes there should be a bit of gratitude from his fellow promoters, since Zuffa did nearly all the heavy lifting up in the state capital of Albany over the past several years.

"I believe absolutely we should be the first show there," Ratner said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I didn't see thank yous from our competitors. They spent nothing and we spent millions to get it done. As I've said here before, this is the best New York thing I can say, we're Broadway and everybody else is off-Broadway. "

MMA can be a rough business and is not exactly known for cooperation between rivals. Still, Ratner believes the company should have gotten some credit for the work put in.

"I took it, I don't know if personally is the right word, I found myself aggravated, all any competitor should say is ‘we can't wait to be in New York, but we want to thank our fellow promoter the UFC for getting it done and shepherding it though.' That's what I didn't see."

The biggest roadblock toward the legalization of the sport in the Empire State -- which still needs to go through the formality of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature and a review period by the state athletic commission before it becomes official -- fell last Tuesday, after a wild day in the state Assembly finally ended in a one-sided vote in favor of the sport.

Listening to some of the more unhinged representatives make fantastical claims attempting to link the sport to everything from slavery to pedophilia in a debate which dragged on for hours led to a few nervous moments, Ratner admits.

"What I was nervous about was listening to some of the stuff that was being said," Ratner said. "What I was really thinking was, ‘how do these people get elected?' Just implausible statements they would say some of the statements they made and they weren't educated at all about it, but nevertheless 114 votes out of 150 is pretty darn good.

"It was always a questions of when, not if," Ratner continued. "But it was dragging, and I was wondering, are they going to get a vote, while they go back and, here some people had second chance to speak after the vote you can defend vote, it was a bizarre way of doing business. The bottom line is New York is finally open for business and we'll be there."

After a long day, which included four separate committee meetings before the issue reached the floor, the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing the sport. It was an emotional moment for Ratner, who estimated he's made 25 trips to Albany in a near-decade long battle to make the sport legal in the nation's biggest market.

"When I first heard the vote, I teared up for a second and looked back and said ‘geez you finally did it,' Ratner said. "It was very emotional and exciting. It's the way its supposed to be, it shouldn't have taken this long, it's nonsensical it took this long. But I don't look back, I l only look forward and its time to get the rules done and have a fight there."

With that, Ratner, who left his job as executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission in 2006 to join Zuffa, had finally seen the company's goal of getting the sport legalized throughout the U.S. and Canada achieved.

"Everywhere is different, I've seen a lot of state capitols I had only read about, but all in all, now it's worth it," Ratner said. "As I mentioned on some of the things, as Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead said, what a long, strange trip its been."

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