Make sure to mark March 22, 2016 down on your calendars, because hell has just frozen over. On Tuesday, after seemingly endless hours of debate, a lot of it nonsensical grandstanding, the New York State Assembly voted 113-25 to finally legalize mixed martial arts in The Big Apple.
After several years of aggressive campaigning, the UFC, the planet’s premiere MMA promotion, will finally be allowed to make its long awaited return to the NYC.
The last time the UFC hosted a show in the world’s largest media market was UFC 7 in 1995 at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo. Because of New York’s reluctance to allows MMA back into their state following a 1997 ban, the UFC has been forced to hold events in nearby New Jersey.
Over the past years, New York’s Senate would pass the MMA bill only to get denied once it reached New York’s State Assembly. The last couple of years MMA never even made it to the Assembly’s hands for a vote.
In 2015, the UFC filed a new lawsuit in federal court reiterating its claim that New York’s nearly-20-year-old law banning MMA events was unconstitutional. The UFC proceeded to presumptuously reserve the historic Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2016 for a blockbuster event featuring “the UFC’s top champions.”
That event, which turned out to be UFC 197 featuring the rematch between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and New York native Jon Jones, was subsequently reassigned to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Last month, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta (pictured) promised they were “prepared to launch the most intense and epic series of major events over the next three years that the Empire State has ever seen” once New York gave MMA its blessing.
Connecticut legalized MMA two years ago, leaving New York as the only state in America with an athletic commission that refused to sanction the sport. Alaska and Wyoming lack the necessary regulatory bodies to oversee MMA.
And then there were none. MSG, here we come!