Ever since its formation waaay the hell back in 1993, the UFC's held its increasingly popular MMA events -- over 300 of them -- in cities like LA, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago, and Boston... but oddly enough, not NYC. Until now.
Held in Madison Square Garden, UFC 205 starts at 10pm EST and will mark the company's Big Apple debut with an impressive title card matchup: Conor McGregor, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, will challenge Eddie Alvarez for his lightweight championship belt. This is only the second time in UFC history that two current champions in different weight classes face off for the same title.
It's gonna be a killer fight, and an even bigger event, but why has it taken so long for the UFC to come to New York? To find the answer, you'll have to look at Culinary Local 226: the powerful Las Vegas union that's fought to keep MMA illegal in the Empire State.
Why was the UFC banned in the first place?
Although UFC President Dana White is the organization's most recognizable figurehead, co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta were the real targets of the culinary union's ire. In addition to the UFC, the Fertittas also own Station Casinos, a Vegas-based gaming property that also happens to be anti-union -- a fact Culinary Local 226 has been none-too-happy about.
As a result, the Vegas union funneled considerable resources into making sure the UFC (or any other MMA promoter, for that matter) would be unable to operate in New York State, in an attempt to pressure the Fertittas into allowing their workers to unionize. MMA was originally outlawed in 1997, but New York assemblyman Sheldon Silver is alleged to have continually prevented the MMA issue from reaching a floor vote at the behest of Culinary Local 226.
If this sounds shady as hell, that's because it actually was: Silver was forced to resign from his position as Speaker of the New York State Assembly in 2015 amid a broad swathe of federal corruption charges. He was eventually convicted on all counts, losing his seat on the Assembly as well as his right to practice law, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison (along with a $7 million fine). With Silver out of the way, the MMA ban was lifted in short order earlier this year -- and thus, we have our inaugural MSG showdown this Saturday.
How to watch UFC 205
If you want to be there in person for this historic event, be prepared to pay through the nose. The few tickets left on Ticketmaster are going for upwards of $1,300 each, although you'll be able to find something a bit cheaper through StubHub -- cheaper as in $700. Maybe just head to a local bar that's screening the fight?
If you'd rather not go into debt OR struggle to find a seat at a bar, though, there's always the PPV option: Pony up $50 for the SD stream, or $60 for glorious HD through your cable/satellite provider (TWC, Comcast, Dish Network, DirecTV, etc).
Bottom line: The UFC is finally coming to New York, and you're gonna want to see what happens when it does.
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