The UFC may not be out of the woods yet for its August return to Boston, but it apparently can see a clearing and has issued a statement saying as much.
The promotion apparently didn’t know it was in the woods to begin with until this past week. But since finding out, plans have been underway to make sure its card for UFC on FOX Sports 1 1 remains intact, and foreign-born UFC fighters without U.S. Social Security numbers still are able to compete.
UFC on FOX Sports 1 1 takes place Aug. 17 at TD Garden in Boston. It will be the UFC’s first event in Massachusetts since UFC 118 in August 2010, and also the debut of the promotion on the new FOX Sports 1 cable network, which launches that same day.
The Boston Herald on Tuesday reported that a Massachusetts law is on the books that keeps foreign-born fighters from competing if they don’t have a Social Security number.
That law was in effect for the UFC’s first show in the commonwealth, a show that included five foreign-born fighters, including Demian Maia. But all five fought on the card, and if there was an issue, it was never made public.
The UFC’s statement released Tuesday night said the promotion is working on solving the problem and anticipates “a positive outcome” to the matter in advance of the card, which is about two months away.
“For the first time since 2010, the UFC is very excited to return to TD Garden in Boston on Saturday, Aug. 17 with a live event card to coincide with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Tickets went on pre-sale today for the event and are already off to a tremendous start. There were some questions that surfaced regarding licensing requirements for mixed martial artists and boxers to have social security numbers in order to compete in the state of Massachusetts. Last week, these requirements were brought to UFC’s attention and we immediately began working to ensure that all athletes affected by this are in full compliance. We are continuing to work on this and anticipate a positive outcome. We look forward to bringing another successful event to Boston during an incredible week for sports fans in the city.”
The UFC’s lineup for the card currently features 11 fighters who were born outside of the United States. That in and of itself, of course, would not preclude someone from getting a Social Security number. The first requirement is U.S. citizenship. The Social Security Administration allows fighters to get a temporary number after a 10-day grace period, though even then it’s not guaranteed fighters would be cleared for the event.
Included among the 11 are main-event fighter Mauricio Rua, who meets Chael Sonnen at light heavyweight, and co-main event heavyweight Alistair Overeem, who takes on Travis Browne. Additionally, Brazil’s Yuri Alcantara is set to meet former featherweight champion Urijah Faber in a crucial bout in the bantamweight division.
Speaking to the Herald, though, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety said the UFC has known about the law.
“This law has been in existence since we legalized mixed martial arts in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Terrell Harris told the newspaper. “It’s been brought to the attention of the UFC more than a few times since we legalized the fighting here. But they’ve chosen basically to ignore the law and hope that they could skirt it somehow.”
The UFC put tickets for the card on sale today to UFC Fight Club members. A second pre-sale takes place Wednesday, and the general public can purchase tickets on Thursday.
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(Pictured: Yuri Alcantara)