I was in Las Vegas this weekend to see the judges rob Johny Hendricks of his victory against longtime champ George St-Pierre. It was an insane fight, and a lot of fun to watch. But just as interesting is the political sparring that has kept the UFC out of New York.
It’s a bizarre union beef: A Las Vegas Culinary Union wants a card-check vote to organize in Nevada’s Station Casinos, which is a wholly separate entity from the UFC, though it’s also owned by the Fertitta brothers. It can’t win in Nevada, so the union has taken the fight to New York, the only state where professional mixed martial arts remains illegal.
Weidman, the middleweight champion, was born in Baldwin, N.Y., and his coaching team is entirely based in New York. A devout Christian and New Yorker to the core, he used his strong social-media following to mobilize a food-and-clothing drive at his home church after Hurricane Sandy.
“I have a lot of pride that I’m from New York, and it’s really frustrating that because of some dirty politics, [MMA] is not allowed here,” Weidman told me in September, appearing at a promotional event in the Financial District. “It’s criminal. They’re holding me back from providing for my family in my home state. They’re holding a lot of people back from a lot of different jobs in New York.”
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