Company president Dana White said in March that the UFC was holding a date in New York, hedging its bet that this would be the year that the New York State Assembly finally legalizes professional mixed martial arts in the state.
White on Thursday confirmed to Newsday “we have a date” reserved in December for Madison Square Garden in New York.
While he didn’t reveal what that date was, about the only ones that make sense for such a monumental event would be UFC 194 on Dec. 5 or UFC on FOX 17 on Dec. 19. But the magnitude of the promotion’s debut in New York would almost certainly command a pay-per-view event, and Newsday cited an anonymous source that indicated Dec. 5 (the date of UFC 194) was the date being reserved.
Should the event come to fruition, White guaranteed that New Yorkers would be happy with a bevy of home grown talent coloring the fight card.
“You know we’re going to have a lot of New Yorkers fighting on the New York card,” White told Newsday. “We do that in every market we go in. Plus, the first ever at the Garden, I mean, some of these guys’ dreams are to fight at the Garden.”
Fighters like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, middleweight champ Chris Weidman, former lightweight titleholder Frankie Edgar, and numerous other New Yorkers have been waiting with bated breath for the state to open its doors to the sport.
Whether or not that dream comes true in 2015 has to do with clearing a few more hurdles. With the change in leadership of the New York State Assembly this year, UFC officials are more optimistic than ever that the Assembly will finally approve the MMA bill that once again passed the Senate earlier this year.
That has to happen during the legislative session that ends in June. If it does, then Gov. Andrew Cuomo has to sign the bill into law. Then the state athletic commission has to get regulations in place before an event can be held. With all 49 other states having legalized MMA, there is a blueprint in place to accelerate the process.
Of course, UFC officials have already been working on all of these angles, trying to ensure that they can move as quickly as possible to get things in place if New York finally passes the MMA bill. But only time will tell if this is the year that the final state in the union ends its MMA holdout and legalizes the sport across all 50 states.