For two decades, MMA and New York mixed like oil and water, with the latter constantly rebuffing the former’s efforts to stage an event in the state.
On March 22, 2016, the ban on MMA was officially lifted and a mere two weeks later, the sport’s leading organization, UFC, announced that UFC 205 would take place in New York City at The World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden.
The reversal of fortune was a big boon to the burgeoning UFC brand, but in turn, also provided a big boost to the economy of New York state, which it seems poised to continue to do for a very long time.
After UFC 205, UFC conducted an economic impact analysis to highlight the positive effect that the event had on the New York area.
According to MMAWeekly.com, the study concluded that UFC 205 contributed “$37.4 million in economic output and $18.3 million in salaries and wages” to New York state, plus “300 jobs in the New York metropolitan area” and “$1.6 million in taxes for the state.”
“We said it from the very beginning, we knew New York was going to be huge,” UFC President Dana White said. “It was a dream come true for the athletes, for the fans, and for our company to host a UFC event in ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena.’ The numbers don’t lie, a lot of people came out to support us and we’re going to keep doing this up and down the state.”
“This record-setting event would not have been possible without the tremendous support from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Senator Joe Griffo and many others from across the state,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “We look forward to hosting many more historic events throughout the state of New York, including UFC 208 on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and UFC 210 on Saturday, April 8 in Buffalo.”
Aside from the massive success of the fight from an economic perspective for the host state, UFC 205 was also a landmark event for UFC.
UFC 205 drew a reported 20,427 fans in attendance, which resulted in $17.7 million in ticket sales — a record for both UFC and for Madison Square Garden.
The previous record for UFC was set at UFC 129 and that was back in April of 2011.
Adding to the allure of the event — besides it being the first of its kind in New York in 20 years — was the strength of the fight card, which featured a highly anticipated lightweight title bout between UFC superstar Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez.
UFC plans to continue holding events in the state and pledged to hold at least four events per year in New York for the next three years.
Their next event in New York will be UFC 210, featuring a rematch between Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson with Cormier defending his light heavyweight title against Johnson.
The fight was originally scheduled to take place in Toronto, but a groin injury forced Cormier to withdraw from the fight.
The rematch will take place at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY on April 8.