SAN JOSE, Calif. – Fight fans looking to attend the UFC’s planned 20th-anniversary spectacular might not want to book their flights to New York just yet.
UFC President Dana White today revealed while progress appears to have been made toward the promotion’s efforts to get the sport of MMA regulated in New York, 2013 still might not be the year it gets done.
“Anything can happen,” White said following today’s UFC on FOX 7 press event. “But I’m not as optimistic as I was a few weeks ago.”
New York has long been a primary target in the UFC’s effort to legalize MMA across the country, but efforts to legalize the sport in the state have consistently stalled out in the New York State Assembly. In 2012, for instance, a bill to regulate the sport passed the New York Senate before New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver declined to bring said bill to the Assembly floor for a vote.
Despite the setback, White said at the end of 2012 that he was optimistic things would change in the next calendar year and that the company could potentially visit New York’s famed Madison Square Garden for a 20th anniversary event in November.
“I plan on being in New York in 2013 for the UFC’s 20th anniversary,” White said in December. “That’s my goal, so we’ll see.”
In March, a bill to legalize MMA again passed through the Senate, and Silver said the sport would “probably” receive an approval at some point. While many observers took that as a positive sign, White said things are different behind the scenes.
“We’ll see what happens,” White said. “I’m just not as optimistic as I was.”
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that UFC officials are planning to visit again with New York lawmakers next week when the promotion is in nearby New Jersey for UFC 159 and that some company officials remain “cautiously optimistic” for positive news.
Of course, the UFC will continue to face stern opposition from Las Vegas’ Culinary Workers Union 226 and its parent organization UNITE HERE. UFC co-owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta also own Las Vegas’ Station Casinos chain, the largest non-union hotel group in Sin City. In an effort to force the chain to unionize, Culinary Workers Union reps have long rallied against the UFC, especially in the promotion’s efforts to move into New York.
White finds the entire situation ridiculous.
“Everybody wants [MMA in New York] except the culinary union,” White said. “Let me tell you this: Every time we try to move forward and progress in New York, the Las Vegas Culinary Union starts hammering everybody with letters, and they’re working the politicians and everything else.
“I have a question for you: In Las Vegas, we put on however many fights a year. How come they’re not writing any letters in Las Vegas? They’re from Las Vegas. And if the UFC is this horrible thing that they write about, why aren’t they sending letters to the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Nevada State Athletic Commission – and the list goes on an on? Why are they only writing letters to New York? Does that make any sense to anybody? So what’s good for Vegas, Vegas can reap the benefits of all the economic impact we have, all the good things that happen when a UFC event comes in to Vegas, but New York can’t? Why is that? Dirty, rotten scumbags.”
So it seems Madison Square Garden may have to wait another year for its first UFC event. However, White did say the company is still planning for a blockbuster event to celebrate 20 years since the company’s Nov. 12, 1993 debut event.
“There’s going to be a 20-year anniversary,” White said. “It’s just not going to be at MSG. … But wherever we go for the 20-year, it’s going to be big.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.