LAS VEGAS – Dana White has said it before, and he no doubt will say it again: He’s over New York.
He told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) as much on Monday in Las Vegas: “I don’t care anymore. I’m over it,” the UFC president said.
“It,” of course, is the potential for New York, the country’s last holdout, to finally sanction and legislate MMA. Although hopes were high again this year, for the fourth straight year the state failed to pass a bill to legalize the sport.
For the UFC, that decision has long-term repercussions, of course. But in the short term, it meant the promotion’s plan to celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall with a pay-per-view at the fabled Madison Square Garden in New York fell by the wayside.
On Monday, White said the UFC had hoped to headline that card with an oft-discussed superfight between longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva and light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones, a New York native.
Instead, the 20th anniversary show will take place in Las Vegas, tentatively UFC 167 on Nov. 16, with a welterweight title fight between Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks.
“If we did the fight we wanted to do, it would’ve been someplace else,” White said. “Our original plan was Maidson Square Garden, Jones vs. Silva, for this 20th anniversary. That was our plan. None of that s–t worked out.”
White said the UFC has spent in the millions of dollars lobbying and furthering education on the sport in New York, so far to no avail.
Part of the problem, as has been frequently reported, appears to stem from a major campaign by Las Vegas’ Culinary Workers Union 226, which has a long-standing labor dispute with Station Casinos, a company owned by UFC co-owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.
The UFC has sent current and former fighters to the state capital to give presentations on the sport to policymakers, has sent vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner and Lorenzo Fertitta to speak on the economic impact the UFC would bring to the state, and even has promised four fights a year for New York City and smaller cities like Albany, Syracuse and Rochester.
But after all the politics, White believes the efforts put forth by the promotion may always be in vain.
“Me personally, I don’t (think it’s worth it),” White said. “(UFC general counsel) Lawrence (Epstein) hates when I say this – but I can’t help myself. It’s the most corrupt state in the United States when it comes to politics.
“That place is so crazy. It’s so blatant and so apparent, and they just don’t give a s–t. I don’t think we have the perception problem anymore. Usually, if you’re doing dirty s–t, you at least want to make it look like you’re not. But they don’t even care.”
And if New York doesn’t care, White apparently doesn’t care anymore, either.
For more on the UFC 167, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Jon Jones)