UFC to Boston in 2010?

by Nancy Marrapese-Burrell | source: boston.com

Ultimately, bit of a delay
A UFC event may not come to Boston until next year
Local boy Kenny Florian could have a bloody good time in Boston.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has events Saturday in Las Vegas (UFC No. 100) and Aug. 8 in Philadelphia (UFC No. 101), the latter of which will feature Dover native Kenny Florian’s quest to wrest the lightweight title from B.J. Penn.

The question in Florian’s home state is when will the UFC land in Boston?

The answer is not as soon as originally expected. The UFC had hoped to schedule an event at TD Banknorth Garden for the third Saturday in November. However, because of the often glacial pace of the legislative process, as well as how booked the building is, the soonest the UFC could schedule a card in Boston is the second quarter of 2010.

Senator James Timilty, a Democrat from Walpole who is a fan of mixed-martial arts, introduced the bill to have the Boxing Commission regulate the sport, and although it has been making its way through channels with virtually no opposition, it has yet to pass.

“We’re hoping for action on the bill in short order,’’ said Matthew Moran, Timilty’s chief of staff. “Maybe in the next week or two, I don’t know. We’re not exactly positive about a timetable but we do feel good about moving it by the Senate Ways and Means [where it is now.]’’

As for getting it to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick to be signed into law, Moran said it’s difficult to say.

“The Legislature moves at a pace dictated by itself,’’ he said. “I know folks on the committee were very receptive to not only the economic impact [which will bring in an estimated $12 million in revenue] but the timeliness of moving the bill forward, and I know they reached out to their particular members. We’re anticipating movement soon.’’

Marc Ratner, vice president of regulatory affairs for the UFC, said Boston is an important destination for the sport.

“We have a lot of fighters from that area,’’ said Ratner. “And when we check the ratings for our television shows as well as our pay-per-view buys, there’s just a big concentration in the Northeast and especially in Massachusetts. It’s a very important state and area. It’s one of the two big states we don’t have right now. Forty states have approved the sport. We’re in the legislature in New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.’’

Ratner said the support on Beacon Hill makes the UFC hierarchy hopeful of a fairly swift passage.

“We haven’t seen any opposition so far,’’ said Ratner. “There’s nothing out there that makes us think there are any problems. We’ve been to Boston several times and met with different legislators and we’re very encouraged. To me, it’s not a matter of if but when.’’

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tags: legislation   regulation   

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