The UFC's battle to be regulated in the state of New York continues. The fight has been long and hard, but is it necessary?
Does putting on events in the Empire State make or break the sport's chances of mainstream success?
I don't prescribe to that theory.
Once upon a time, that would have rang true. New York City was and still is the media capital of the world. As the song goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. However, that's not where the world is anymore.
The advancement of media has taken it from a select few to the masses. The Internet and globalization have transformed the word "mainstream."
The UFC's growth has happened without the support of New York, and it will continue to be that way. Fans and media alike do not say that the UFC needs New York. No. They say New York needs the UFC. New York needs the economic impact that the sport brings to the cities it visits.
Other metro areas have embraced the UFC. Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, London, Rio and beyond.
The UFC has already received what it needs in order to achieve mainstream success—a media conglomerate's support. The FOX deal was much more vital than being able to run events in New York.
The platform that FOX gives to the UFC is extremely valuable. It puts the UFC in millions of homes it could never have reached otherwise. It legitimizes the sport alongside FOX's other sport properties. The UFC is now alongside the NFL, NASCAR, MLB, the World Cup and other mainstream sports.
Furthermore, what New York is needed for is media. The UFC already have the ability to go in to New York to promote their events. UFC billboards in Times Square are nothing new. Heading off to interviews in the city was never stopped. That is the only thing that matters.
Do you really believe not being able to run events in Madison Square Garden stopped the legitimacy of MMA?
Madison Square Garden was once the Mecca for professional sporting events, but that is no longer the case. It may hold a certain bit of nostalgia for some, but most are used to the new state of sports. Fans growing up today hold no special place for MSG. It's just another venue to them.
Running events in the state of New York will bring more money to the UFC's bottom line. That is a given. If the organization is again turned away, it will not stop the MMA's ascent as a mainstream sport or make fans think the UFC is less of a success.
It will only make New York look like they are behind the times.
The landscape has shifted. New York is no longer needed to become mainstream. It is a new world.