Herald incorrect, UFC on FOX Sports 1 in Boston not in jeopardy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Boston Herald’s Dave Wedge is reporting that Massachusetts laws regarding international fighter licensing are jeopardising UFC on FOX Sports 1, on August 17, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston. Fighters without the required social security number include Brazilian nationals Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Thiago Alves, Yuri Alcantara, and Diego Brandao, Armenian Manny “The Anvil” Gamburyan and Swede Akira Cor­assani.

State red tape could knock out a blockbuster fight card slated for Boston Garden later this summer as government officials are refusing the UFC’s request to relax rules barring foreign-born fighters from hitting the octagon without Social Security numbers.

“This law has been in existence since we legalized mixed martial arts in the commonwealth of Mass­achusetts,” said Terrell Harris, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, which regulates prize fighting.

“It’s been brought to the attention of the UFC more than a few times since we legalized the fighting here. But they’ve chosen basically to ignore the law and hope that they could skirt it somehow,” Harris said.

Under federal Social Security Administration rules, a fighter can get a temporary number after a 10-day grace period.

“When they bring in fighters that are not American citizens, there are exceptions that allow them to obtain a Social Security number,” Harris said.

“The Social Security Administration will issue a temporary work visa but it’s up to them to do their due diligence,” he said.

Harris said the UFC has petitioned the state for a one-time exception to allow foreign fighters to square off at the Aug. 17 Garden event — with or without a valid Social Security number. But state law is clear that officials are prohibited from issuing an MMA license to any fighter without proper documentation.

“They’ve approached us and asked us if we could make exceptions to the law for them,” Harris said.

“But the law is the law. The law doesn’t allow us to make exceptions.”

One state official said a major UFC fight such as the Boston event could bring in as much as $50 million in revenue to the city. House Speaker Robert F. DeLeo urged the UFC to contact lawmakers to try to find a solution.

“The Speaker was not aware of the problem and has not been in touch with UFC officials, but would be eager to learn more about it,” DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell said.

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Despite the alarmist content, there is every expectation that the fight will go on as planned.

Top manager Shu Hirata tweeted about one route through.

Shu Hirata ‏@ShuHirata
if u don’t live in US then u can no longer get ss #. Only tax ID # and u have to send in actual passport to IRS to get this.

Shu Hirata ‏@ShuHirata
fill out form W7 and send in with passport, then u can get tax ID # in like a month so for Boston UFC show still got time.

Shu Hirata ‏@ShuHirata
I do tax filing for all my foreign clients so I am an expert in this topic 🙂 But sending in passport makes everyone nervous

Read enttire Twitter…

The UFC is already addressing the issue internally, for any fighters without a US social security number.

“The show will definitely be taking place,” said UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, who added that he is working on the issue.