The UFC’s return to Boston could be in serious jeopardy, after a report surfaced regarding an effort from state politician to keep foreign-born fighters without social security numbers from participating in the event.
When you consider that the fight card’s top three fights all feature foreign born fighters — Shogun Rua, Alistair Overeem and Yuri Alcantara — this is a big problem.
Under federal Social Security Administration rules, a fighter can get a temporary number after a 10-day grace period.
“When they bring in fighters that are not American citizens, there are exceptions that allow them to obtain a Social Security number,” said Terrell Harris, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.
“The Social Security Administration will issue a temporary work visa but it’s up to them to do their due diligence,” he said. Harris said the UFC has petitioned the state for a one-time exception to allow foreign fighters to square off at the Aug. 17 Garden event — with or without a valid Social Security number. But state law is clear that officials are prohibited from issuing an MMA license to any fighter without proper documentation.
“They’ve approached us and asked us if we could make exceptions to the law for them,” Harris said. “But the law is the law. The law doesn’t allow us to make exceptions.”
UFC officials did not return several messages seeking comment.
This is obviously not good for the promotion.
The UFC didn’t have to deal with this issue for their debut Boston event, UFC 118: Edgar vs. Penn 2, back in August of 2010 which came shortly after the state legalized mixed martial arts, but the law was apparently just pushed to the side for that event.
“This law has been in existence since we legalized mixed martial arts in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Terrell Harris, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, which regulates prize fighting.
“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.”
UFC on FOX Sports 1 1 is set to help launch the new 24/7 FOX Sports network, so if the event is forced to find a new location it could put a real damper on the plans. With fighters already beginning fight camps and travel arrangements being made, this is a worst case scenario situation for the UFC.
Not to mention, tickets go on sale this week.
Hopefully there will be a way to allow the event to go on as planned, but if not, we can expect a very angry Dana White and an organization that will be scrambling to make new plans on very short notice. There is one rumor that the UFC is currently working on obtaining temporary social security numbers for the foreign-born fighters, so we will have to see how this plays out.
We will keep you updated on the situation as more information becomes available.