Several of the biggest names in mixed-martial arts blamed New York’s failure to sanction their sport on the corruption of labor unions on Thursday.
“I’m starting to think it’s a New Jersey thing,” Dana White told Breitbart Sports regarding the Garden State benefitting from its neighbor’s ban. “Seriously, it’s a union thing.” White referred to a spat between a labor union and his UFC co-owners, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who own a Las Vegas gaming corporation.The flamboyant and fiery White oversaw a press conference at New York’s Madison Square Garden for a Saturday fight card at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The juxtaposition of the press-conference setting in Manhattan with a pay-per-view event in a neighboring locale naturally led to questions about the Empire State refusing to give its imprimatur to cage fighting.
Uriah Faber, one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, told Breitbart Sports, “The reason MMA is not sanctioned in New York is because there is a lot of money from the culinary unions who have an old grudge with the Fertittas about Station Casinos not using the culinary unions in Las Vegas. It’s corrupt. It’s wrong. It’s something that everyone should be ashamed of if you’re a part of it.”
Faber laughed off health concerns regarding the combat sport as the impetus for the ban. He maintained that “obesity” poses a far greater threat to public health than hard training and proper diet.
Former heavyweight champion Frank Mir, who holds notable victories over Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Roy Nelson, offered a particularly spirited defense of the sport that’s been dubbed “human cockfighting” by Senator John McCain. “We’re human beings,” Mir explained. “We’re not meant to be stuck inside of a nerfed-up suitcase and be protected from the world. If two individuals want to go compete and train, [they should be allowed] as long as they understand there is a risk.”
“How can it be in China and not here?” asked Mir’s opponent. Dutch striker Alistair Overeem opined that mixed-martial arts serves as a great sport not just for spectators but for kids “It gets them off the streets and gives them self-respect,” the heavyweight contended.
Ricardo Lamas, a Chicagoan who faces off with featherweight champion Jose Aldo on Saturday, admitted that the ban has him perplexed. “I still don’t know why New York hasn’t legalized MMA yet,” he remarked at the press event. When boxing ruled the fighting world, Madison Square Garden served as the de facto capitol building for the sweet science. Now that MMA has challenged boxing for combat sports supremacy, New York has been left out of big-money matches. Nevertheless, fighting in Madison Square Garden, Lamas said, remained on his “bucket list.” ]
The Prudential Center, which hosted Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day, serves as the venue for UFC 169, further establishing New Jersey as the Mecca of the sports world this weekend. The stacked card includes a bantamweight title fight between Brazilian Renan Barao, undefeated in his last 32 fights, against former WEC lightweight champion Uriah “the California Kid” Faber; a featherweight championship bout between Jose Aldo and challenger Ricardo Lamas; and a battle between two heavyweight heavyweights, former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and former UFC champion Frank Mir. The card airs 10 p.m. eastern time on pay-per view.
The “stigma” surrounding the sport “baffles” the articulate Mir, who noted that all the fighters interacted in the same room as gentlemen prior to the press conference, “shake hands” after matches, and that when a popular fighter loses you don’t witness fans toppling cars as they do in reaction to other sports. As far as New York refusing to approve of mixed-martial arts, Mir believes it doesn’t involve the violent nature of the sport: “The whole not sanctioning in New York is other factors that don’t have anything to do with us.”