Responding to a public query from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the head of Ultimate Fighting Championship said his organization plans on hosting at least 12 events in New York over the next three years if the state lifts its ban on professional mixed martial arts.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta issued a statement Tuesday not long after Cuomo suggested he’d have an easier time supporting a rescinding of the ban if the promoter could provide a “multi-year commitment” that it would host events in New York, along with assurances the bouts would provide a positive economic impact.
In his statement, Fertitta said “more than half” of the events would be held upstate. (The UFC has long had its eye on Madison Square Garden in New York City, and currently has a hold on a November date.)
“I have toured the cities and arenas upstate,” Fertitta said in his statement. “I have been to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany and would look forward to attending UFC events in all of those cities.”
The fate of the ban likely lies in the hands of the Assembly, after the Senate passed a bill to lift it last week. Labor and faith groups have been pushing Assembly members to reject it, citing the violent nature of the sport they refer to as “cage fighting.”
Fertitta was in Albany last week, when UFC officials met with members of Cuomo’s staff and various lawmakers. His full statement is after the jump.
“We are pleased that the Governor recognizes the enormous positive economic impact legalizing mixed martial arts (MMA) could have for creating jobs for New Yorkers and spurring economic activity in communities across the state. UFC is committed to being a major part of that activity.
“Once MMA is legalized in New York and properly regulated by the State Athletic Commission, UFC plans to hold a minimum of 4 events per year for the next three years, with more than half of those events taking place in cities across upstate New York. I have toured the cities and arenas upstate. I have been to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany and would look forward to attending UFC events in all of those cities.
“And I know that UFC is not alone among MMA promoters looking to do events in New York. Bellator and World Series of Fighting, to name just two, are as eager as we are to put on shows in New York. California and Ohio both have scores of MMA events every year and there is no reason to assume New York would be any different.
“UFC 129 in Toronto two years ago generated approximately $40 million in economic activity for that city over the course of the several days we were there. Saturday night we will be in Montreal. Next month we will be in New Jersey.
“Now, we look forward to providing jobs at arenas and generating tens of millions of dollars in economic activity for communities across New York.”