“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. You want to know how confident I am? We’re holding a date. That’s how confident we are.”

UFC President Dana White sounded confident indeed, as he spoke to AXS-TV’s Inside MMA yesterday about the promotion’s chance to stage an event in New York City. White and Co. have now set down a date for an event to be held at Madison Square Garden late in the year.

“We’re already having the greatest year in the history of the company out of the gates here,” White said. “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.”

It was exciting news for the Big Apple’s MMA fans, eager to see the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion, in the most famous arena in sports. But as White says, it’s been said before and there are still many hurdles to overcome.

An event in NYC is something that the UFC has been unable to manage in its history, which dates back to its original show in 1993. In 1995, UFC 7, aka “The Brawl in Buffalo,” was held in Buffalo, New York — but the promotion never returned. The sport was effectively banned in the state in 1997.

Since then, bills to legalize the sport have had success — only to be shot down on the Assembly floor. But with a vocal opponent of the sport, New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, arrested on corruption charges, the time may be now for the sport to return.

Today, New York remains the last state in the union to ban MMA.

The interview can be seen here: