After a seemingly endless struggle, could 2015 be the year that mixed martial arts gains sanctioning in New York?
He’s said it before, but he’s saying it again, this time with much more gusto: UFC president Dana White is “confident” this is the year.
“You’ve heard me say this many times, and I’m going to say it again: I’m very confident it might happen this year,” White said in an interview on AXS TV’s Inside MMA on Friday night.
“You want to know how confident I am? We’re holding a date. That’s how confident we are.”
Year after year, a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York has blown past the necessary hurdles… until the time comes to bring it to a vote on the Assembly floor.
Despite surveys of New York politicians that show overwhelming support for the measure, each and every time the legislation gets close to a vote, it has been swept into a corner with old musty boxes piled high atop it never again to see the light of day.
The UFC’s owners, the Fertittas, have been locked in a battle with the Las Vegas Culinary Union for years, having to do with the Fertittas’ casino business. And since they haven’t been able to work things out, White believes it has been union pressure that had kept New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver from ever allowing MMA legislation to come to the floor for a vote.
“It’s a union thing. It’s a Las Vegas Culinary Union situation,” said White. “You can pick up the paper and read about it and you’ll understand why we didn’t get into New York. It was blocked by (Silver), and now he’s got bigger problems than the UFC, so hopefully we can get through it.”
Silver was arrested on Jan. 22 on federal charges of corruption. He later resigned his position as Speaker. With that happening, White is confident that the new Speaker will finally allow MMA legislation, which has once again begun to clear the necessary hurdles, to be brought up for a vote this year. If that happens, he’s confident it will pass.
“(UFC execs) went up (to New York) and they had great meetings. Every time we’ve gone up there, it’s been really positive,” said White. “Everybody up there loves the UFC. Everybody wants to see it happen. Hopefully now, with the recent events that have taken place, maybe it’ll get done this time.”
As White said, he is so confident that New York will end its hold out as the final state in the union to legalize MMA, the UFC is holding a date for Madison Square Garden in December. While interview Kenny Rice mentioned somewhere around Christmas several times in his questioning, White didn’t give up a specific date, he just reiterated that he was confident they could be in New York in December, which would cap off what has been the promotion’s strongest starting year to date.
“I don’t want to be cocky, but we’re being confident. Imagine if we can do that this year,” he said. “We’re already having the greatest year in the history of the company out of the gates here, and if everything holds together, people stay healthy, fights stay in place, we’re in for an unbelievable year and that would be a great way to top it off.”