The UFC's attempt to stage their first show in New York had a dramatic twist Monday as the world's largest MMA organization simply announced they are going to run a show at NYC's Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2016... but only with a judge's help.
UFC sent out a press release with the date and location, and announced they have filed a new case in federal court "reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional. This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit. Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law. The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws."
They added that later this week, they will "ask a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed."
The announcement is actually a legal strategy. UFC had a lawsuit out against the state of New York that was thrown out because they were given the impression they couldn't prove damages, in the sense the state had never denied their request to run a show. They had never requested running a show because the state didn't sanction MMA due to a 1997 law that banned the sport. They took the ruling to mean that by never announcing a date, and having the state then cancel it, there were no damages.
The UFC will attempt to now get a preliminary injunction against the state and use that in its battle to promote there. If the injunction fails, the show would not take place, but it would them give them a stronger legal case against the state.
A bit of grandstanding? Yes, but for those who have followed the MMA in NY State drama for the past few years, that is what is needed in order to draw more attention to the UFC's struggles to get into the state.
One interesting side note: when it comes to scheduling, a potential MSG event (which would be loaded) would come less than three months before UFC 200 in July, another show that is expected to be loaded up. When it comes to the 2016 schedule, we'll see if UFC goes lighter around that time to help fuel both cards. Of course, this all may be for naught depending on the legal system.