The UFC’s latest tactic aimed at getting professional mixed martial arts regulated in New York fell short this week and it’s left UFC president Dana White incredulous.
On Monday, a federal judge in Manhattan denied the UFC’s request for a preliminary injunction against the state that would have opened the door for MMA events statewide.
“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” said White, who was in Manhattan on Thursday to promote his “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” web series and Saturday’s Newark-based event, UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Bader.
New York remains the only holdout in the U.S. to ban the sport. Amateur MMA is legal, but it is unregulated and unsanctioned by the New York State Athletic Commission, which oversees boxing.
White chalked up the state’s reluctance to sanction the sport in New York to the work of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union Local 226. The union has a long history of issues with the UFC’s majority owners, brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, regarding their Las Vegas-based Station Casinos hotel and casino resort.
“If we sold this company [UFC parent Zuffa LLC] tomorrow,” White said, “[MMA would] be in New York the next day.”
The UFC had hoped the preliminary injunction would allow MMA’s top promotion to hold an event at Madison Square Garden on April 23. That event is unlikely, given the decision by Judge Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. Southern District Court on Monday.
Paths remain for the UFC to make its way into New York this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo included MMA in his budget proposal. If the sport remains in the approved final budget, MMA, as a matter of law, would become legal in New York and would not need to be voted on separately by the Assembly, where bills aimed at sanctioning the sport have stalled in each of the past six year.