Last week, mixed martial arts was legalized in Connecticut, making New York the last place in the United States where the sport is outlawed. But if you've been listening to Dana White and the UFC brass over the last few years, it wouldn't be long before the last domino fell.
White had long been adamant that the UFC would one day hold an event in Madison Square Garden, something of a Mecca in the fight game, and that day was not far off.
To accelerate acceptance, the UFC has sent dignitaries and fighters to the state to educate those barring its legalization, while White has taken potshots at politicians who have expressed resistance.
When Connecticut joined contemporary society last week, Marc Ratner, the UFC's Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, seemed optimistic that the company's previous work would combine with New York's now complete isolation to force their hand.
“@MarcRatnerUFC: Connecticut becomes the 49th State to legalize MMA ....NY is the last holdout and we'll get there too!” Woo hoo!!— UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2013
But will the last holdout crumble now that it's all alone? Certainly that's what everyone wants—especially the UFC, right?
Well, apparently not. According to White, what New York does is of no consequence. On Thursday, Ariel Helwani tweeted:
Dana on NY: who gives a shit?— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 13, 2013
This stance is a far cry from the UFC's previous one, and frankly, it seems an awful lot like an attempt at playing hard to get. Perhaps by acting like the UFC doesn't want to be in New York, the state will realize how great the UFC is and open its doors.
Or maybe White really has moved on and accepted that things will take longer than originally anticipated. Obviously, legalization would be a coup, but perhaps White's statement represents a stoic new stance for the promotion, one that says whatever will be will be.
And White's "statement" likely reflects the growing frustration that New York and the culinary union is causing the promotion (as well as the state's fight fans).
Regardless, it's a major change in rhetoric for the UFC. In time, we'll see what it means for MMA in New York.