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Massachusetts MMA regulation draws near, awaits Governor's signature

UFC President Dana White mentioned the historic and beloved Fenway Park as a possible venue for the promotion’s anticipated Boston debut in mid to late 2010 during the UFC 101 post-fight press conference in the early morning hours of Aug. 9.

What started as enthusiastic optimism now seems like a foregone conclusion.

A bill to legalize mixed martial arts in Massachusetts recently cleared its latest hurdle in the legislative process after breezing through the State Senate by a vote of 34-1.

The bill then headed to the House Ways and Means Committee for additional consideration, where it sailed through by a vote of 144-10. All that remains is a signature from Governor Deval Patrick and it's go-time.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officials 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. If all goes according to plan, the promotion is hoping to stage a major pay-per-view (PPV) event at some point in 2010.

Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden is also under consideration to host the planned event.

Former 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.

Ratner has previously mentioned that a UFC Fan Expo could also accompany their freshman effort as a way to celebrate the move to Boston as well as reward Northeast fans for their patience.

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 homecoming would be unforgettable.

The success of UFC 101 in Philadelphia can only help their cause as they continue to plow their way into unregulated markets. Zuffa held it’s first-ever Pennsylvania event just five months after the state sanctioned MMA, indicating the quick turnaround between regulation and a debut show.

MMA in Boston -- but not New York? No self-respecting New Yorker would stand for that.

Step aside, Mr. Reilly

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