How close is the UFC to coming to New York and holding an event at Madison Square Garden? So close that the organization is already planning main- and co-main events.
Earlier this week, UFC boss Lorenzo Fertitta trekked to Albany – the seat of the state government – to do interviews, shake hands and convince politicians that the time is now.
While this was going on, the half of the MMA bill that must go through the State Senate was progressing through committee. Of course, the State Assembly has traditionally been where the most resistance has lurked, but changes in leadership have everyone cautiously optimistic.
“We do feel like we’re closer than ever,” said Fertitta on the Talk 1300 AM radio show.
The bill to legalize professional MMA (yes, the silly laws of New York allow MMA, as long as the fighters DON’T get paid) passed through the New York State senate tourism committee. The bill has passed in the senate the past several years, but always stalls in the assembly. With Sheldon Silver out of power, there is the hope that they can get it passed this year and run Madison Square Garden in the fall. An idea that would make sense, if Lesnar actually signs, would be to put Lesnar vs. Mir as part of a double main event for the MSG debut show. With Jon Jones and Chris Weidman both from New York, one or the other would be the likely first main eventer if both are still champions if/when they are allowed to run there.
There are still a lot of moving parts to worry about, plus the whole counting-chickens-before-they-hatch thing. However, it seems like it’s all happening this year.
About freakin’ time.