“IT HAPPENED!!” If you are a boxing fan, those words make you think of Jim Lampley’s famous call in 1994 when George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer to win the Heavyweight Championship at the incredible age of 45. Lampley made the call again this past Saturday night when 46 yr old Bernard Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal to win the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship. The win gives Hopkins the record of “oldest man to win a boxing championship”, as Hopkins is 6 months older than Foreman was the night he defeated Moorer.
That’s what boxing fans think of when they hear “It Happened”, but MMA fans are saying it today for a different reason. The state of New York is one (giant) step closer to legalizing MMA today after the NY State Senate voted 42-18 to pass a bill that asks for the sport to be legalized. The fight is not over, as now the bill has to be passed by the State Assembly and then signed by the Governor, but make no mistake today is a huge day for the UFC.
Dana White may be from Boston, but he understands there is something special about New York City and more specifically, Madison Square Garden. Can you imagine what the energy will be like the night the UFC makes their debut at MSG? No offense to my friends in Seattle, but I am guessing it will be a little different then the vibe at the Key Arena, or any other arena that isn’t the Garden. Living in San Diego, I am close to the Honda Center in Anaheim. I was in Honda Center for two of the biggest events in their brief history. I was there the night the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup, and I was there the night Cain Velasquez knocked out Brock Lesnar to become UFC Heavyweight Champion. Both nights were amazing, and very loud.
Still, neither compares to a night I spent in Madison Square Garden watching the Rangers play the Flyers. My seats were better in Anaheim, there were championships on the line in Anaheim, and I still give the slight edge to the Rangers/Flyers game. If you have never been to a game between the Rangers and Flyers you’re going to think I am insane. I get it, it’s cool I have been told that a lot. There is just a vibe around MSG prior to a big event that you don’t get in Orange County, Seattle, San Diego etc..
As great as that Rangers game was, the debut of the UFC in “The World’s Most Famous Arena” should be even better. If we know anything, its Dana White is obsessed with giving the fans what they want, and after fighting for so long to get into New York, YOU KNOW that first card will be stacked. Who will we see? Who knows, as of right now there is no timetable for a vote from the NY State Assembly. That could happen in 6 weeks or 6 months. A lot can happen over 6 months. Maybe George St Pierre defeats Nick Diaz and we get to see GSP vs. Anderson Silva. OR maybe MSG is the place you hold “The MMA Super Bowl” where the best of the UFC fight the best of Strikeforce. The possibilities are endless, but no matter what it’s going to be good.
Congratulations to Bernard Hopkins on an amazing win. Congrats also to George Foreman. While you may no longer hold the record, it doesn’t take away from one of the greatest performances in boxing history; and congratulations to the great fight fans of New York. You may lead the world in a lot of categories, but you were almost last in legalizing MMA. Let’s hope the final pieces fall into place so the official countdown can begin sooner rather than later.