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UFC aims for Boston debut in summer 2010 -- complete with UFC Fan Expo

Folks in "Beantown" hoping to get a glimpse of the Zuffa Zealots are getting closer than ever to seeing their wish come to fruition as a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in Massachusetts cleared its latest hurdle in the legislative process after breezing through the State Senate by a vote of 34-1.

The bill now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee for additional consideration before arriving at the desk of Governor Deval Patrick for his signature.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officials once again stormed Massachusetts earlier this year, attempting to convince lawmakers in the "Bay State" that mixed martial arts regulation is good for them and the state economy … to the tune of $12.3 million in just one weekend.

The latest dog and pony show appeared to have done the trick during a State House hearing held back in April. In fact, if all goes according to plan, the promotion is hoping to stage a major pay-per-view (PPV) event from the TD Banknorth Garden — though it likely won’t be until summer 2010.

Here’s a snip from Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole), the chairman of the public safety and homeland security committee, via the Boston Herald:

"It’s going to be good for the Commonwealth because with this step being taken, some of the bigger promoters who wouldn’t come into a state that had not legitimized it with regulation will now entertain a pretty big gate in one of the major cities in the Commonwealth. That’s going to mean a lot in terms of bringing something to the sporting public who desperately want it, and it will also mean a revenue stream for the Commonwealth."

Number one lightweight contender and local-area fighter, Kenny Florian, UFC vice president of regulation and governmental affairs Marc Ratner, as well as general counsels Lawrence Epstein and Michael Mersch, comprised the UFC contingent charged with making the case for regulation.

According to the Ratner, "We’re very excited. We want to come to Massachusetts, but as I’ve told the world, we’re not going to come there unless it’s fully regulated. I’m going to use the word when, not even if, but when it gets approved and sanctioned, then we would schedule a show sometime hopefully in June, July or August (of 2010). And, like we did in Las Vegas (at UFC 100), we’d have a fan expo built around it if we could. That’s how much we really want to be there."

It can’t come soon enough — Florian, Marcus Davis, Jorge Rivera and Gabriel Gonzaga are just a few of the talented fighters who hail from the region and would more than likely be featured on a New England card.

And remember that company president Dana White is from "Southie," which means that he would certainly pull out all the stops to ensure that his first-ever trip home would be unforgettable.

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