UFC president Dana White loves Boston, but following Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen event at the TD Gardens, it may be a while before he signs off on returning to the market.
The UFC has had to jump through numerous hoops to get its event all the way to fight day, and White is none too appreciative of that. In fact, when asked if the issues the company has had to deal with in getting Shogun vs. Sonnen off the ground affect his thinking about returning, he couldn’t deny it.
“I'd be a liar if I said no,” White said during a Monday conference call promoting the show.
One of the first hurdles the promotion ran into was a state requirement that all fighters have a social security number to be eligible to compete. That sounds simple enough, but it was troublesome considering many of the fighters on the card are from outside the United States.
Another issue developed when the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) was unsure how to handle Chael Sonnen’s testosterone replacement therapy due to its lack of experience in the matter.
If that weren’t enough, Unite Here – otherwise known as the Culinary Union – did its best to sabotage the event, filing separate complaints that minors should not be allowed to attend the event and that Sonnen should be denied a license “because Mr. Sonnen has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.”
The “moral turpitude” claim stems from Sonnen’s January 2011 conviction on federal money laundering.
In reality, White believes the Culinary Union’s complaints had little to do with the charges cited in their letters. They had more to do with the fact that the union is battling to unionize Station Casinos, which is owned by UFC co-owners the Fertitta brothers.
“What they want is Station Casinos,” White declared. “If they get Station Casinos, it's another $10 million a year to the union. So they'll use any dirty tactic and spend as much money as it takes to try to get Station Casinos.”
The MSAC held a hearing this past Thursday to consider Sonnen’s TRT usage and the Culinary Union’s complaints.
The UFC eventually met all of the requirements on the social security issue, Sonnen’s TRT usage was approved contingent upon meeting specified testosterone levels both pre- and post-fight, and the Culinary Union complaints were eventually shot down, but enduring the process didn’t sit well with White.
Having grown up in the region and having lived for a time in Boston, White loves the city and is a fan of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, but he may be inclined to save Boston for his personal enjoyment in the future.
“It's a great place to hang out with my friends and eat, but not a great place to put on fights.”