NEW YORK – Dana White hasn’t given up hope on the UFC one day hosting events in the state of New York. Far from it.
But in terms of items on his list of things to get stressed out over, well, the UFC president is “over it.”
This past week in San Jose, Calif., White said optimism about MMA becoming regulated in New York this year was starting to wane. That would mean a bucket-list goal of having a UFC event in legendary sports venue Madison Square Garden in downtown New York for the promotion’s 20th anniversary in November would appear to be a long shot.
On Thursday, White said a bill to legalize MMA in New York continually falling short in the state was “ridiculous.” The UFC today puts on UFC 159 in nearby Newark, N.J., at Prudential Center. Coming to New Jersey has been a regular thing for the promotion in lieu of being able to fight in New York.
“We got more votes (in the New York state Senate) than we got last year, and it’s just to the point now where it’s absolutely ridiculous and I’m over it,” White said. “We’re still working on it. (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) spent the whole day in Albany the other day talking to non-supporters.”
One of the roadblocks appears to be the staunch opposition of Las Vegas’ Culinary Workers Union 226, which has been battling against the UFC and its hope to get MMA sanctioned in New York. UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta also own the Stations Casinos chain, which is Las Vegas’ largest non-unionized hotel group.
White said the UFC wouldn’t seek out loopholes, should the sport again not become sanctioned in 2013, in order to put on a fight in the state – perhaps using a third-party sanctioning body.
“We would never do anything sneaky,” White said. “We’re either going to get sanctioned here or not. We’ll only do it if the government (sanctions it). It’s the culinary union. The culinary union bused a bunch of people up to Albany last week to try to protest there. It’s 100 percent the Las Vegas culinary union.”
White also said that group appears right now to be focused solely on keeping the UFC out of New York and not necessarily on getting it shut down in places the sport already is sanctioned. New York remains one of few states to not legislate the sport.
“What’s funny is, they send all these letters to New York to the politicians, all these activist groups and all these other things,” White said, echoing a common refrain any time he’s asked about New York’s progress and the culinary union’s opposition. “How come they don’t do that in Las Vegas? They’re the Las Vegas culinary union, yet they don’t send any letters around Vegas. Does it make sense? If this thing is so bad, like they’re saying, if this thing is horrible for society, why aren’t they sending letters to Las Vegas? Because everybody would laugh them out of the city, that’s why.”
New York state Senator Liz Krueger has been out of the most outspoken critics of MMA legislation in the state, saying this past month that the sport’s message is one of violence – and that a “disproportionate” theme in its fighters was of Neo-Nazism.
She also has spoken out against White, whose brash style and often colorful language has become his calling card – and one unique in the world of sports league presidents.
“She’s uneducated about the sport,” White said of Krueger. “Yes, I do use foul language. I’m a grown up. I can say whatever I want to say. I love when you have a politician like her trying to police how people talk and what they say and how they should say it. Mind your business, lady. As far as the fighters, educate yourself on who these people are and what they do. We do a lot of good things.
“For a woman who’s completely uneducated (on the sport), if you don’t like fighting, I understand that. Nobody’s asking you to like fighting. So you want this thing to go away and you want all these people to not make a living? This is what they’re passionate about, this is what they love and this is what they do for a living. I think we have enough problems in this country right now with jobs and many other things for a politician to be trying to put more people out of work.”
For now, it doesn’t appear any of the UFC’s fighters are going to be out of work if there continue to be stumbling blocks on the road to New York legislation.
But it may remain a thorn in the organization’s side a little while longer.
For more on UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Dana White)