Marc Ratner, Vice President of UFC Regulatory Affairs, is hard at work preparing for UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland on Jan. 17. It’s the UFC’s second appearance on Irish soil. In the show’s main event, Dan Henderson is scheduled to face Rich Franklin at light heavyweight.
Because the Irish government does not recognize MMA as a sport, Ratner will oversee many logistical duties normally done by an athletic commission, including hiring of referees, ringside officials, and drug testing.
“As if it would be in the state of Nevada,” Ratner tells MMAInsider.
Ratner is still working on forming a commission that oversees MMA in the United Kingdom. Up until now, the British Boxing Board of Control, which once oversaw boxing in Ireland, has not been open to MMA. However, Ratner says there have been changes in the Board’s executive staff, and some of the new members may be amenable to incorporating the sport.
“We’re working with them, hoping that will happen,” says Ratner. “The British Boxing Board of Control can be the overall entity that’s in charge, but they need some kind of MMA division. That’s what we’re working on.”
Stateside, South Carolina and Wisconsin are two targets on his to-do list. The New York legislature reconvenes in mid-January, and the UFC’s strategy groups and lobbying firms are laying the groundwork for the passage of bill 1-11458-A, which would regulate MMA in the Empire State. “We feel very confident that the sport of MMA will be approved in New York this session,” Ratner says. He was unclear on the timetable for Massachusetts, though a July 2008 bill to regulate the sport was passed on.
“Everywhere there’s an athletic commission, we want the sport of MMA approved. So we’re out there working,” he said.