With the 20th anniversary of the UFC approaching later this year, it’s become painfully obvious that company president Dana White and the rest of the Zuffa leaders are determined to celebrate their milestone event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

White has gone on record and said that he intends to bring the Octagon to The Garden at some point in 2013, and a huge anniversary show would be the optimal situation for the UFC’s first event in New York since 1995. The problem, as it has been for years, is that MMA is illegal in New York.

The state banned professional MMA back in 1997, and despite the numerous efforts from the UFC and other promotions, New York remains as one of the few states that has not lifted its ban on MMA.

Even though there are currently no plans in place to repeal the law, the UFC’s opportunity to throw an event in NYC recently increased drastically when a New York judge ordered the promotion and the state of New York to settle. The agreement comes down to third-party sanctioning, which would allow the UFC to use one of the pre-approved sanctioning bodies in New York to oversee the event. In other words, MMA won’t quite be legal in New York, but the state is giving the UFC and any other MMA promotion the opportunity to get around the law.

Zuffa is still going to attempt to get the law repealed, but this a pretty sizeable victory for the UFC, as the promotion has found the loophole it needs if it wants to host an event in New York. Although getting this loophole may not be as satisfying as successfully getting the ban on MMA repealed, it could end up being a huge step for the legalization of the sport if Zuffa decides to go the third-party route.

An UFC event in New York is sure to generate a decent amount of revenue, especially if the promotion puts together a stacked card at MSG for its anniversary show. Throw in the likely UFC fan expo and other Octagon-related events, and New York City could easily be taken over by UFC fans later this year.

A significant event in New York City would be impossible for the state to ignore, and the more successful that event is, the more pressure would be put on New York to completely legalize the sport.

It may seem risky for the UFC to essentially ignore the law and throw an event in New York while the sport is still deemed illegal, but this loophole could end up being the catalyst that causes the state to rethink its current ban on the sport, and it could end up being a calculated risk that the promotion is willing to take.

Dana White and the UFC may not be able to convince the state that there’s no reason for the sport to be illegal in court, but they could throw the sport in New York’s face and attempt to force them to accept such a reality.

It won’t be easy, and it’s doubtful the UFC will get any support from New York if it decides to use the third-party loophole, but the door is finally open for the UFC to get into New York.

Photo: The New York City Skyline (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.

  • Robby Collins

    I don’t know, it almost seems like an appeasement tactic so that NY doesn’t have to actually break down and legalize the sport. My gut tells me that they should wait for (and continue to pressure) full legalization. There’s also the issue of all the non-sanctioned events being held without any overseeing body to enforce safety standards, etc. NY needs to give in, plain and simple.