The near 20 year ban on mixed martial arts (MMA) in New York was lifted last spring and not only has this been great for New York fight fans but for the business of MMA as well. The last day of 2016 Madison Square Garden hosted its second MMA event to a sold out crowd in the theater.
The ban was around so long, even New York’s politicians became fans of the sport and its fighters. 111th District Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara presented an honorary citation to WSOF during their New Year's Eve event that featured four title fights. He seemed to not only be a fan of the sport and this particular event, but he was a fan of the preliminary fighter Tommy Marcellino who won his first bout in his home state in the “world's most famous arena”.
The event drew 941,000 viewers during the NBC broadcast and 71k for the preliminary bouts that aired on NBCSN before the main card according to Sports TV Ratings. This is the highest rated event for the promotion since WSOF 11 in 2014 which drew over 700,000 viewers. Back in November UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden broke the venues attendance record with 17.7 million dollar gate and 20,427 in attendance. The proof of the economic boost MMA has had on New York could not have been more present with these two events. So what does New York MMA have to look forward to in the New Year?
The UFC returns to Brooklyn in February for UFC 208 and with it they are crowning their first ever women’s featherweight champion. Holly Holm (10-2) faces Germaine de Randamie (6-3) at the Barclay’s Center, another popular sports venue in the state. That will be the promotion's third bout since the ban was lifted and their first New York event of 2017. MMA is an international sport so hardcore fans come from all over to watch this sport, so more money will be coming to New York soon thanks to MMA.
Bellator has yet to jump into the New York territory but the promotion is aware if they come to New York, they have to come strong like the UFC and WSOF did. Scott Coker mentioned during the post fight press conference at Bellator 163 that they do plan on coming to the Empire State around the second, or third quarter of 2017 and will do so with a huge card. Maybe another one of their DYNAMITE events? Fight fans hope so.
After being banned for so long, it will be hard not to notice MMA when it comes to New York and everytime it does local fight fans should clear their calendars for New York fight weeks to come.