With UFC 128 just across the Hudson River, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta spent the past few days stumping for their new favorite cause: sanctioned MMA in New York. Earlier in the week, that meant the two were in Albany (the state capital and the seat of the very legislature that’s been struggling with the issue), shaking hands and pleading their case. Last night, however, White and Fertitta appeared on local news channel NY1’s “Inside City Hall” program, debating topic with the sport’s public enemy number one, Assemblyman Bob Reilly.
- Dana White, on the presence of underground fight shows in New York: “It’s real. It happens every weekend.” White went on to stress the need to regulate these events.
- White and Fertitta downplayed the anticipated economic benefit MMA will bring to New York, but stated that over 60% of the tickets sold to UFC 128, which takes place in Newark, New Jersey, were sold to New Yorkers – and that was taxable revenue and fiscal impact that could’ve been New York’s.
- White and Fertitta hammered home that point further by saying that they’ve sold 55,000 tickets to UFC 129 in Toronto (a implied, dangling financial carrot if there ever was one).
- Assemblyman Reilly wasted no time attacking Zuffa, bringing up Station Casino’s bankruptcy court problems and how they’re Nevada-based, where prostitution and gambling are legal.
- Assemblyman Reilly was his usual ill-informed self. In a memo to his fellow committee members when the Assembly was mulling over the issue two years ago, he mistook Pride’s rules for the UFC’s. This time around, he flubbed Strikeforce’s forced adoption of the Unified Rules with “The UFC just fought to keep downward elbow strikes in the sport.” Downward elbow strikes have been, and remain, illegal.
- Assemblyman Reilly also had this gem: “[The State] is going to say that two men, or women, can get in a cage and fight, sometimes to the death? That’s not a message we want to give.”
Take out your official “New York MMA Legislative Scorecards” from earlier in the week. Now mark down “Dana White & MMA: +1 point; Bob Reilly: -1 point”.