Big news came earlier this week, as New York finally became the fiftieth state to legalize mixed martial arts (MMA).
A plethora of fighters were happy to hear of the legalization, but perhaps none more than former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, a Long Island native who has long pushed for the ability to fight in his home state.
Currently scheduled to rematch 185-pound boss Luke Rockhold at June’s UFC 199, Weidman recently said that the legalization of the sport in NY has made him even more ‘excited’ to reclaim his title in hopes of one day defending it at the infamous Madison Square Garden:
“The vision gets even stronger now. I had to get my belt back, but now just the fact that I’m going to get to defend my belt in Madison Square Garden in front of all of New York is crazy to even start to think about,” Weidman said during a recent conference call. “It definitely gets me more excited.”
The promotion has been attempting to legalize MMA in the Empire State for years now, and “The All-American” claims that it’s now a dream come true not only for himself, but for the passionate legion of New York fans:
“Speaking for myself I’ve been fighting for seven years, and I’ve been missing out on opportunities to fight in front of my family, friends, fans here in New York. Every year you’re just hopeful and it finally happened, so it’s a dream come true for me,” he said. “It’s a dream come true for all these New York fans that don’t have to worry about buying these tickets to Las Vegas to watch New York fighters get in there or take long car rides to New Jersey.”
As far as what the reaction has been, Weidman admits that it’s been nothing but excitement regarding a move that was a long time coming:
“Everyone is so excited. [Whether] guys were just doing MMA for fun or exercise or competing at the pro level, everyone is just so excited,” he said. “Living in New York having to explain to people who aren’t educated on the sport why it’s illegal is just something that you get kind of sick of doing all the time. Now that’s it’s a legit sport in New York and there’s no more explaining to do, it’s a huge relief for everybody.”
Do you foresee Weidman getting the better of Rockhold when the two meet for a second time?