UFC taking its push for MMA on the road

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Also coming soon to an upstate city near you: The Ultimate Fighting Championship road show.

UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenze Fertitta is taking the push for professional mixed martial arts in New York to three upstate cities on Wednesday, making stops at arenas in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse with fighters Uriah Hall and Ryan LaFlare to make their pitch.

The UFC officials will be at the Oncenter at War Memorial in Syracuse at 10 a.m. before heading to Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena at 1 p.m. and Buffalo’s First Niagara Center at 3 p.m.

Fertitta, who also is a majority owner of a chain of Las Vegas casinos, has become a semi-frequent presence at the state Capitol as the UFC tries for at least the fifth year to have state lawmakers overturn New York’s ban on professional bouts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo challenged the UFC earlier this year to come up with a “multi-year commitment” to the state, and the promoter replied by promising 12 events in New York over the next three years if the ban is lifted.

Several labor-backed, faith and women’s groups, however, have expressed deep opposition to the violent nature of the sport and the message it sends, calling on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to block the bill that would allow it. The Senate passed the legislation earlier this year, while the Assembly plans to discuss the issue behind closed doors before deciding whether it will come up for a vote.

(AP file photo/The Canadian Press)

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