New York just received 135 million reasons to give the UFC a bite out of the Big Apple. On Thursday, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, along with a senator, assemblymen and UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, held a news conference at Madison Square Garden where they outlined how the state would benefit from lifting the ban on MMA.
“We know what UFC events do for cities around the nation and around the world. And now we know what it’s estimated we can do in New York. Legalizing professional MMA in New York means $135 million in economic activity for the state,” said Fertitta.
Under the report Fertitta outlined, New York would reap nearly $6 million a year in sales taxes. This, along with revenue from five yearly UFC events, would put a significant dent in the $1.7 billion deficit they face. These figures also take into account events help by other MMA promotions.
Last month, Scifighting reported that the UFC lawsuit challenging the validity of New York’s MMA ban took a step forward when the Federal District Court ruled in their favor. Fertitta’s statement comes less than two months before the New York State Assembly returns from winter break, keeping October’s court ruling and this week’s revenue report fresh in the mind of its members.
The bill banning MMA was approved in 1997 when rules were lenient and promotions did not require fighters to wear gloves. Since then, 49 of 50 states have allowed MMA on their grounds and four bills rebuffing the New York ban have passed through Legislature, all of which have been denied.
“I’m born and raised and as New York as it gets,” said Weidman, “I accomplished the thing in my life that I feel is the most important besides getting married to my beautiful wife and having my beautiful children, and that was winning the UFC belt. That’s good, but there’s something really missing, and it kind of takes away from this belt, and that’s not being able to participate in my sport – something I’m so passionate about and that I’ve worked my whole life for – in my home state of New York.”