UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston didn't come without a lot of headaches for the promotion, including a new showdown with the culinary union, based out of Las Vegas, that continued their vendetta against the company's owners.
When the card was first announced, the UFC encountered a new issue that they didn't experience in 2010 when they visited Boston for their debut in the city. A law was enacted that fighters had to have social security numbers to be able to participate on the card, and while foreign fighters were eligible to receive temporary numbers, it still created a logjam of issues to take care of for a show filled with international talent.
Fighters like Canadian Nick Ring even had to be removed from the card when he was unable to secure the proper documentation to fight in Boston.
In addition to that, the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission then received a grievance from Unite Here, a union group that includes Culinary Union 226—a Las Vegas-based union that has been going after the UFC for years due to the company's owners also possessing Station Casinos, the largest non-unionized gaming facility in the area.
The commission opted to hold a special meeting after the complaint was filed against main-event fighter Chael Sonnen about whether or not he should be issued a fight license to compete in the state. The argument against disallowing Sonnen to fight in the state was about his money laundering conviction that he has on his record, as well as alleged "derogatory" remarks about women and other nationalities.
Sonnen admits that the entire situation could have been a major distraction to him had he known about it.
"It confused me more than it upset me. I didn't know much about it," Sonnen said during a media conference call on Monday. "I got a text message the day of a hearing that was scheduled by the commission, so I didn't know about it and I didn't have any time to prepare. I got a text message, I called in, I was there to answer questions, I wasn't asked any questions, I was on the phone for less than a minute.
"I was very happy that the commission saw it that way, but yeah, it was something that could have caused me a great deal of stress had I known about it."
UFC president Dana White's long-standing grudge with the culinary union has been well documented over the last few years. The unions have played a major part in preventing the UFC from receiving the proper legislature to get MMA sanctioned in New York State, and now this is just another case where the union is throwing their weight around.
Like anything else, White says it all really comes down to money.
"For the simple fact that they're spending their union members dues to try to hurt the UFC, which has nothing to do with the union members or whatever it might be. It's so transparent and just so ridiculous," White stated. "For instance, what they do is they use different organizations on serious issues. Whether it's women or gay rights or whatever it may be, they use these different organizations to try to get what they want, and what they want in Station Casinos.
"If they get Station Casinos it's another $10 million a year to the union. So they'll use any dirty tactic, and spend as much money as it takes, to try and get Station Casinos."
That ongoing effort was only the latest in a series of issues the UFC had with their upcoming show in Boston. As much as White loves his hometown, he finds it hard to believe he'll bring the UFC back there again any time soon.
"I'd be a liar if I said no," White answered when asked if the entire ordeal surrounding this show could prevent the UFC from returning.
"It's a great place to go hang out with my friends and eat, but not a great place to put on fights."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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