March 22, 2016 was a historic day for the UFC. Earlier in the day, the New York State Assembly passed the bill to lift the ban on MMA by a landslide 113-25 vote. The legislation will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign and be passed into law, meaning for the first time since 1995 the UFC will be able to put on an event in the state.
Speaking at a UFC media conference call, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta promised to up to four events per year in New York with the possibility of two shows before the end of 2016.
"We are hopeful that we will be holding one, possibly two events [in New York] before the end of the year here in 2016," Fertitta said. ... "We're hopeful that we'll be able to get in at least two in before the end of the year."
Fertitta said that the promotion are targeting the fourth quarter of the year for their first card in New York, specifically November or December. The first show looks set to be a Fight Night special, with the first pay-per view debuting at the legendary Madison Square Garden venue.
Lorenzo Fertitta has set a pretty ambitious goal for the UFC, as they look to set the financial gate record at every arena in New York the UFC runs, including Madison Square Gardens. Housing some of the biggest sporting and music spectacles to date, to break the financial gate at Madison Square Gardens would require an extremely special fight card. Something that Fertitta has promised.
"I think it's gonna be an epic moment for the sport and for our company," Fertitta said. "Obviously, right now all of our focus is on trying to put together the matches for UFC 200, but when we go to New York and we eventually debut at Madison Square Garden, me and Dana [White] and the rest of the team are gonna be very focused on delivering for the fans. We're gonna put together the best available matches that we can. You'll have the biggest names that we can possibly put on, the biggest names that are available at the time. Believe me, we want to knock it out of the park and we want to deliver for New York in a big way."
The plans are extremely ambitious, but it's hard to see anything but an incredibly lucrative night when the UFC debuts at Madison Square Gardens. Fertitta also hinted at a possible return for former bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at Madison Square Gardens.
"I haven't had any conversation with Ronda about it. But like I said before, when we go to New York, we want to come with a big event. And obviously any time Ronda Rousey fights that is clearly a big event. That's to be seen."
The UFC have pulled out all the stops in their 2016 schedule. With massive fight after massive fight, and the 200 milestone, it looks likes 2016 is the year of the UFC. The only way it could possibly get bigger, is by making it's NYC debut and that looks set to happen before the end of the year.