UFC’s Lorenzo Fertitta says eventual Madison Square Garden debut will be “an epic moment for the sport”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Lorenzo Fertitta (photo credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today Sports)

The UFC is planning on a significant and major fight card for when they make their eventual debut at Madison Square Garden, and UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta talked it up during a conference call Tuesday in reaction to New York passing a bill to legalize the wport.

“I think it’s going to be an epic moment for the sport and for our company,” Fertitta said (via FoxSports.com). “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 going to be very focused on delivering for the fans. We’re going to put together the best available matches that we can. You’d 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 to New York in a big way.

“It’s going to be massive and when you do massive events it takes time, it takes runway, it’s going to be a tremendous amount of promotion, a ton of marketing assets, we’re going to have to book the fights that make sense for there, it’s going to be big. I think the fourth quarter is a good target for us. A realistic target for us.”

While Madison Square Garden is the target for something huge, that may not be the only spot in New York they hit before the year is out.

“We’re hoping that [Governor Andrew Cuomo] will sign the bill in fairly short order here,” Fertitta said. “Once that happens the New York State Athletic Commission will have to promulgate rules, adopt rules and regulations and we are hopeful that we’ll be holding one, possibly two events, before the end of the year here in 2016.

“The minute that the vote passed, our teams started calling various arenas and looking at what dates are available. Obviously as I mentioned before, we don’t to put the cart before the horse, the governor still has to sign the bill, the athletic commission needs to adopt the rules, promulgate regulations, 120 days from when the governor signs the bill before we could hold an event. So we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get at least two in by the end of the year.”

Penick’s Analysis: The UFC is going to have a bunch of possible options provided injuries don’t ravage their plans. Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, and Ronda Rousey are all likely to take part, and depending on outcomes at UFC 200 we could see Conor McGregor wind up there as well. It’s going to be a must-see event, and whether or not they can keep enough fights intact to make it as big as possible is the only thing that remains in flux.

[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]

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