After some pre-event drama in Beantown, UFC President Dana White has changed his mind and said the organization will, in fact, make a return to Boston in the future.
It’s an about-face from comments White made prior to this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 event, which faced a handful of headaches from outside interests.
The first involved the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety enacting a little-used state law requiring foreign-born martial artists and boxers to have social security numbers before competing in the state. Then, Unite Here, a group representing members of the Las Vegas Culinary Union, tried to block UFC Fight Night 26 headliner Chael Sonnen from gaining a license for the event based on concerns with his “moral turpitude.” The group also successfully petitioned Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy to push for a ban would prohibit minors from attending UFC events in the state.
Even though the ban couldn’t be enacted before UFC Fight Night 26, White, who formerly lived in Boston and continues to have strong ties to the city, suggested the organization would venture to nearby Connecticut rather than return to Massachusetts for future shows.
But after a successful debut on FOX Sports 1 with one of the most entertaining cards in recent UFC history, White was in better spirits.
“First of all I love this city, it’s a great city, it’s a great sports town, and I’ve had a blast since I got here,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) after the event. “I just want to point one thing out. In all the things said this week leading up to this fight, I wasn’t talking about the athletic commission here. I was talking about Commissioner Murphy. That’s who I was talking about.”
Despite his longtime nemeses at the culinary union, whom White labeled “bullies,” he believes it actually benefited the event, which garnered heavy local media attention and drew an estimated 12,539 attendees and $1.53 million live gate.
“I think a lot of good came out of this,” White said. “We all know, we’ve been through this all week and talking about this, that the union came in here and got some union puppets fired up in this town, and they came after us. But when this whole thing is all resolved, I think everybody in the city of Boston, people like the athletic commission and people who are involved in combat sports here, love this event and want us to come back.”
That, apparently, made his decision easier.
“We will be back,” he said. “This was a great experience. Don’t let all the stuff that was said earlier this week make you guys think (otherwise). I love this city. This is my city. I love this city. Everything here was a huge success. It was great, and we’ll be back here.”
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.