Legal issue threatens UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1 in Boston; UFC issues statement

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TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins of the NHL and the Boston Celtics of the NBA, is located along interstate 93 in Boston, Massachusetts.  --  Photo courtesy Shawn Pierce
TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins of the NHL and the Boston Celtics of the NBA, is located along interstate 93 in Boston, Massachusetts. — Photo courtesy Shawn Pierce

For months now the UFC has been planning for a blockbuster show on Aug. 17 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass. to kick off the launch of the FOX Sports 1 television network. The UFC on FOX Sports 1: 1 main event features Brazilian star Mauricio “Shogun” Rua taking on Chael Sonnen, and the co-main event features Dutch kickboxing champion Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne.

Here’s the problem. Apparently there is a law on the books in Massachusetts that won’t allow foreign born fighters to compete without a Social Security number. The Boston Herald ran a report on the issue on Tuesday entitled, “State may KO UFC bouts“. Not cool. Especially since this so-called “most stacked card in UFC history” is packed full of foreign-born fighters, including “Shogun” and Overeem in the main and co-main events.

According to Terrell Harris, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, which regulates prize fighting in Massachusetts, the law has been in existence ever since they legalized mixed martial arts in the state. And he said the UFC has known about it. “It’s been brought to the attention of the UFC more than a few times since we legalized the fighting here. But they’ve chosen basically to ignore the law and hope that they could skirt it somehow,” Harris said.

The UFC released a statement regarding the issue on Tuesday:

For the first time since 2010, the UFC is very excited to return to TD Garden in Boston on Saturday, Aug. 17 with a live event card to coincide with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Tickets went on pre-sale today for the event and are already off to a tremendous start.

There were some questions that surfaced regarding licensing requirements for mixed martial artists and boxers to have social security numbers in order to compete in the state of Massachusetts. Last week, these requirements were brought to UFC’s attention and we immediately began working to ensure that all athletes affected by this are in full compliance. We are continuing to work on this and anticipate a positive outcome.

We look forward to bringing another successful event to Boston during an incredible week for sports fans in the city.

There are procedures in place so foreign-born fighters can compete, but with just roughly two months until fight time. let’s hope the UFC can find a way to cut through the slow moving government’s red tape. UFC officials seem confident the event will go on as planned, so until we hear otherwise there’s probably not much to worry about here.
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