With the UFC set to make its anticipated debut on Fox Sports 1 just ten days from now, word out of Massachusetts has cast doubt on one fighter’s ability to compete in the main event. Originally reported by MMAJunkie.com, a complaint filed by labor organization “Unite Here” has caused the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission to examine whether Chael Sonnen will be granted a license to compete at UFC Fight Night 26.
Sonnen had originally sought to fill in for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 161 as a late injury replacement. Ultimately, his 2011 felony money laundering conviction made it impossible for him to become licensed for the Canadian event on such short notice. The UFC decided to keep Shogun on the shelf, and shortly thereafter it was announced that the match would instead be scheduled as the main event of the inaugural Fox Sports 1 show.
In a petition that has since become public, Unite Here urged the athletic commission to deny Sonnen’s request for a professional unarmed combat license, on the grounds that his criminal history has exhibited “moral turpitude.” A closed-door meeting will be held tomorrow to decide his fate.
Labor unions have a long history of provocation against the UFC, and in particular their parent company, Zuffa, LLC. The business is owned by brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who also serve as the executives of Station Casinos. Their reluctance to unionize the company’s workforce has drawn the ire of the Culinary Union, among other labor organizations. While both sides have engaged in a public relations war, Dana White has not been shy in placing the failure of MMA legalization efforts in New York squarely on their shoulders. It remains to be seen whether their latest effort will put the UFC Fight Night 26 main event in jeopardy.
Stay tuned, as we will be bringing you up to date developments as we receive them.