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UFC to make South Dakota debut in July

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

The UFC will make its South Dakota debut in July with a UFC Fight Night event, according to Argus Leader Media.

UFC President Dana White recently revealed plans to host an event July 13 at Sioux Falls' Denny Sanford Premier Center during a recent appearance at RFA 37.

"We’re coming here in July," White told the Argus Leader.

This announcement comes just three years after South Dakota established its first regulatory MMA commission. Initially, the sport was met with significant resistance in the Mount Rushmore State, but recent developments and successful events have helped buck the negative connotation formerly carried.

"You have to remember what was happening back in 2008-09 — the Wild West years — it was embarrassing," MMA manager Dave Martin told the Argus Leader. "It wasn’t a sport. It was literally a street fight in a cage. That’s why I think you had some in this community who hated MMA. … Bringing in that first fight with [agent] and RFA President] Ed [Soares], we just wanted to do it the right way. To have everybody learn what MMA is all about and to get over that black eye the sport had."

While no fights have been announced for the event just yet, White told the Argus Leader fans can expect at least a few local South Dakota fighters to fight compete at the July 13 event.

"Obviously it would be fantastic to come back here with some South Dakota guys, but we’ll build the card before we get here," White said. "I love giving opportunities. It’s everybody’s dream to fight in the UFC in their hometown. So, obviously I like making that happen."

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