It is the question that simply will not go away.
During a 50-minute press conference with reporters at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White was pressed on the legalization of professional mixed martial arts in New York.
“This is like Groundhog Day,” White said. “Sitting in this room, on this stage, answering this question for many years.”
White had been critical of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver during UFC’s World Tour press conference at the Beacon Theatre in July 2013. When asked if he and Silver had talked following the press conference, White noted UFC has been in the statehouse speaking with legislators.
“We were just up in Albany, [N.Y.] this week,” White said. “I think we are where we’ve always been. I think if he would let this thing go through it would pass in a minute and everybody knows it.”
A cloud hanging over the sport of professional mixed martial arts has been subpar judges determining the winners and losers of fights, with the most notable recent example being Jonny Hendricks losing a split decision to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167.
Aaron Davis, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board Commissioner, vowed judging will not be an issue Saturday night.
“In New Jersey we have a mixed martial arts side and a boxing side,” Davis told Metro New York. “We have boxing judges that concentrate on boxing [and] we have MMA judges that concentrate on MMA. You will never see one of our boxing judges judge a mixed martial arts event.”
According to Davis, having specialized judges is an attempt by New Jersey “to avoid” having erroneous decisions rendered.
“I think we do it best by having our boxing and MMA separate,” Davis said. “We regulate both [sports] with the same vigor. Most of our judges have a lot of years — not just Muay Thai or karate, wrestling, boxing — they have a lot of years of experience. They will know the difference between different holds and different maneuvers.”
Sonnen talks TUF fight
Chael Sonnen was a presence inside the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, even without physically being in the room.
The often-loquacious fighter brawled with rival Wanderlei Silva earlier this week during filming of this season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, in which both are coaches.
“That thing has been a time bomb since they got there,” White said of the Sonnen-Silva fracas, which he noted took place before the weigh-ins for a TUF Brazil fight. “It’s without a doubt the worst thing that’s ever happened on the Ultimate Fighter in 20-something seasons.
UFC has footage of the fight, but White said a decision has not yet been made whether or not to use it as part of the promotional package for their bout, which will be on the Chris Weidman-Vitor Belfort card. White said that card would take place in either May or July in the United States.
Follow mixed martial arts writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.