Dana White is done offering predictions on when the sport of mixed martial arts will end up being legalized in the New York state, but that doesn’t mean he’s giving up hope.
Three weeks after the UFC put the full-court press on New York politicians with an informational press conference at Madison Square Garden, it’s unclear whether White has bunkered in for what he knows will still be alengthy struggle or whether the repeated unsuccessful efforts are beginning to take their toll. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
“Who knows?” answered the UFC President when asked if the goal of educating state officials about the sport was reached. “It’s tough to say there, but that’s what we do; we go in and keep working it and working it and working it until it happens. It didn’t happen this time, and I say it all the time, it’s inevitable. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be in New York, so if it happens tomorrow or ten years from now, whatever.”
Though the UFC continues to grow internationally and slowly gain increased coverage outside of the MMA community, the New York press conference provided a stark reminder of how much room for growth remains for the company and the sport.
“I’m so used to it, it’s unbelievable,” responded White when asked about the string of elementary questions he was forced to field. “I’m being doing that for over ten years now. It’s like when people talk about how big the UFC is; we haven’t even scratched the surface. We’re so far from mainstream, we’re not. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of hurdles to get over.”
When asked to give his thoughts on a timeline for the sport to gain entry into it’s largest untapped market, White offered a commitment instead.
“I’m done predicting on New York, I don’t know, but I can tell you this – we’re dug in there, we’re gonna keep working until it gets done, whenever that may be.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anything will be done in 2011, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo left efforts to legalize the sport in the state off the budget proposal his office released yesterday. Though the decision to not include language regarding the legalization of the sport in the budget is certainly a setback, supporters can look no further than the upcoming event in Toronto for signs of how quickly things can change.
After years of political struggles, the province had a sudden change of heart and announced that the sport would be legalized in 2011. Eight months after the announcement, UFC 129 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre is on track to be the largest MMA event in North American history.