UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) light heavyweight titlist Jon Jones and former divisional champ Rashad Evans have joined the calls for MMA (mixed martial arts) to be legalized in the state of New York.
Jones and Rashad, who are both natives of New York, are slated to lock horns at UFC 145 in a championship contest that looks to bear all the hallmarks of a grudge match for the ages.
The archrivals are more than content with settling their differences in the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga. However, truth be told, if push came to shove, both combatants would rather have NYC as the backdrop to their main event clash.
That said, “Suga” and “Bones” believe that their matchup will be one of the world’s biggest-ever sporting events—on par with Ali vs. Frazier and any Yankees, Jets or Giants game.
Original quotes reported by the Democrat and Chronicle.
“This fight that we have coming up is going to be equivalent to Ali and Frazier, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in Madison Square Garden,” Evans, a Niagara Falls native, said in a phone interview Thursday. “New York should be getting the money that Atlanta is going to receive.”
“This fight is just as big as any Yankees game, any Jets game, any Giants game,” said Jones, who was born in Rochester, attended high school near Binghamton and now lives in Ithaca. “I’m just wondering when New York is going to open their eyes and realize what we’re missing out on.”
Jones also shared his thoughts on what it would mean to his family and friends if he ever got the opportunity to fight in New York:
It would just mean a lot to say thank you to them for being such strong supporters of UFC and such strong supporters of me personally. To let them see me fight in person I think could be a memorable experience for people.
The biggest stumbling block to the legalization of MMA in New York has come from certain sections of the Culinary Union, who deem the sport barbaric and homophobic. As a result, they have done their damnedest to ensure professional mixed martial arts never sees the light of day in NYC.
However, things have mellowed down a bit, and MMA could be a legalized entity in the not-too-distant future of the Big Apple. That being said, that will probably not be the case in 2012 (continued political wranglings have been hampering the progress), as UFC president Dana White had hoped and guaranteed would happen.
For additional information, follow Nedu Obi on Twitter.