BOSTON – Dana White is no stranger to political battles, but the latest efforts from Boston City Council President Steve Murphy – a man White refers to as a “jackass” – have left the UFC president particularly incensed.
“The ball-kicking continues, even once we get here,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “This Murphy guy. You elect a politician to hopefully go out and bring in jobs, create revenue in your city, bring in events that bring revenue to your city. This guy comes out and he’s saying all this s— like ’18 and under’ [not allowed at the event] and all this other stuff they’re doing to us. Then sure enough, this hearing, 25 of the Culinary Union members are there. And this guy busts out a video of Chael Sonnen talking about Anderson Silva in Brazil. First of all, this is the fight business. This isn’t the nice business. This is the fight business.
“And when people ask me about it, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. We’re in Boston, aren’t we? Don’t the Patriots play here? F—ing Aaron Hernandez just murdered somebody and possibly murdered two other people. Are the Patriots going to get chased out of town now? Are they going to do 18 and under?’”
Hernandez, a former Patriots tight end, in June was charged with first-degree murder and multiple gun-related charges and also is being investigated as a suspect in a separate double homicide.
White, a former resident of Boston, makes no effort to hide his love for the city. He openly cheers for the city’s sport’s teams, always schedules extra fan-related activities during the UFC’s trips there and even donated significant personal funds to victims of April’s Boston Marathon Bombings.
But ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 event, which takes place at TD Garden and airs on FOX Sports 1, the UFC has run into hurdle after hurdle as opponents of the sport have looked to run the promotion out of town.
The first obstacle 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. White, who was attending a charity function hosted by Boston Bruin’s player Shawn Thornton, pointed to hockey as a perfect example of why the efforts were hypocritical.
“They pulled this whole social security bull—t on us first,” White said. “How about f—ing hockey? Hockey players are from Russia, Czechoslovakia, Canada and all these other places. They get in here and do it. How about basketball? They’ve got guys from all over the world playing basketball.
“They’re trying to chase us out of here. Are they going to do this to boxing events, too? Are they going to try and chase boxing out of here? How many boxing events are they doing here? Not many.”
UFC brass encountered further issues when Unite Here, a group representing members of the Las Vegas Culinary Union, tried to block UFC Fight Night 26 headliner Chael Sonnen from gaining licensure at the event based on concerns with his “moral turpitude,” and also successfully petitioned Murphy to push for regulation that would ban minors at UFC events in Massachusetts
White said Boston’s resistance to the UFC could eventually lead the company to go to nearby Connecticut, taking all the generated revenue along with it in a situation resembling the benefit New Jersey gains from New York’s current ban on MMA.
“People flew in on Wednesday for some of this stuff,” White said. “There are people here tonight from Brazil, Mexico, Australia, California, Canada. There’s people staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, shopping in malls. They’re creating revenue for the city of Boston. It’s just f—ing crazy.
“If you look at the NFL and all that goes on during the season, let alone the offseason? Now let’s talk about baseball here in Boston. Red Sox-Yankees game. They’e going to be playing here Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You want to get scared? Go to a Red Sox-Yankees game. Little kids are there. People are screaming and yelling s—, horrible things, and fights are breaking out because of different jerseys you’re wearing and all kinds of stuff. Are they going to make that 18 and under (not allowed)?
“This guy’s a complete hypocrite and a total jackass. This Murphy guy is a jackass. So what he’s going to do is do this thing, and then we leave and don’t come back to Boston. So now we hold our event down in Connecticut. Right? Now we hold our event down in Connecticut, and Boston just lost us.”
Murphy’s proposal won’t pass in time to affect Saturday’s event, the company’s first on the new FOX Sports 1 channel. But it could impact future events. White said he hopes that’s not the case and that company officials will continue to monitor the situation even after he leaves.
“I love this city,” White said. “I lived here for almost 10 years. I don’t know. I wish I could do an event here more, but these guys are making it hard to do.”
So if things stay the same, just how long will it be before the company comes back to Beantown?
“It’s going to be a while,” White said.
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