Following the historic vote that legalized mixed martial arts in New York, UFC officials immediately started plans for events that will be held in the Empire State by the end of 2016.
According to UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, the promotion will obviously target at least one massive event for the launch in New York with potentially a second show taking place there before the year is over.
"We're hoping that (Governor Andrew Cuomo) will sign the bill in fairly short order here. 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," Fertitta said during a media conference call on Tuesday.
"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."
Fertitta said that the UFC obviously has plans to put the first big event in New York at the world famous Madison Square Garden in Manhattan but he can't guarantee anything until the bill is signed into law and they can begin securing dates and venues.
Ferttita also mentioned the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, as another destination the UFC holds in very high regard and as a possible landing spot for a landmark event. The UFC will also plan events in many other cities around New York, including Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and even Utica.
"Our first major event, we expect to be at Madison Square Garden. I'll tell you one thing, they've been incredible supporters of the MMA bill from day one," Fertitta said.
"We anticipate the first major event will be at Madison Square Garden. We haven't signed any contracts, we don't have any exact dates held, we are talking to them about some potential weekends."
Fertitta stressed that no dates would be locked down until the MMA bill to legalize New York is signed into law and the state commission finalizes the rule set for New York. The commission has 120 days from the day the bill is signed into law to finalize those rules and regulations and then MMA can begin in New York.
The one thing Fertitta could guarantee is that when the UFC finally books their first major card, the promotion and the magnitude will be off the charts.
"I think it's going to be an epic moment for the sport and for our company," Fertitta said. "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."