NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Lorenzo Fertitta UFC Chairman and President speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is still outlawed in the state of New York. This despite its booming global success led by organizations like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
That's thanks in large part to the old dinosaurs like Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who refers to the sport of cagefighting as a "glorification of brutality and violence." The sport was banned in the state all the way back in 1997 and legislation of yesteryear, as well as regulatory scare tactics, have kept it from coming back.
It's not for lack of trying on the part of Zuffa officials, who have consistently battled to get the sport back in "The Empire State." They've lobbied, held rallies, hell, they even took their fight to the courtroom.
All to no avail.
Nonetheless, they've vowed to push forward until they can hold an event in the state. Now, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta is promising nothing short of the world once the ban is lifted and an event can be held at the famed Madison Square Garden arena.
In fact, you can expect a UFC 100-style extravaganza. Fertitta's words (via MMAFighting.com):
"When we come [to New York] we're going to blow it out. We're going to put on a ridiculous UFC 100-style card, stacked, big, open to the public weigh-ins, press conferences, after-parties, the whole deal. Everybody will be there. This is going to be an event that will remind you of 1971 when Ali fought Frazier for the first time and every celebrity in New York had to be there. The biggest problem that I'm going to have is going to be where to sit everybody and who gets seats and who doesn't. It's going to be crazy."
Well if that doesn't rally support for the cause, I just don't know what will.
There's reason to be optimistic here. Reilly, the previously mentioned hater of MMA, is not seeking re-election, leaving one less obstacle to overcome.
The sooner the better.
Speaking of sooner, Fertitta pledged he would move heaven and Earth to make an event happen just as soon as the ban if lifted. As in, if MMA became legal in June, the UFC would be selling out MSG in the fall.