By Nick Canelas
BOSTON – UFC President Dana White's love for Boston is apparent. He grew up in the area and considers it one of the greatest cities in the world.
Still, bringing his sport back to Boston hasn't been easy, and there's a chance Saturday night at TD Garden could be the last time his adopted home will ever host a major UFC event.
White has said throughout the week that no city, or state in general, has been a harder challenge to bring the UFC to than Boston. In fact, it's “not even close,” according to White.
Since the card was announced, White has been in a battle with the Las Vegas culinary union as well as politicians, issues they didn't experience when the UFC first came to Boston in 2010.
At first, it appeared foreign fighters couldn't make the trip because Massachusetts law requires one to have a social security number in order to participate in mixed martial arts in the state, which was problematic for fighters such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who is from Brazil.
Then there was the battle to get Chael Sonnen licensed for MMA in the Bay State – which was apparently problematic due to his brash personality and lack of filter – until he was unanimously approved in a hearing.
Those issues have been settled. But a fresher subject was on White's mind at Thursday's press conference at Wang Theatre.
Boston City Council President Steve Murphy wants to ban children under 18 from attending live MMA events in Massachusetts, and it appears he may get his wish when the decision will be voted on at a hearing next Wednesday.
It may have no impact on Saturday. But the thought of that bill passing had White fuming.
“Let me tell you what, if they vote that [children under 18 can't attend UFC events], the people in Boston should just go [expletive] crazy…
“These kids have parents. Who are you to parent other people's kids? That's not what you were elected to do. You weren't elected to become children's parents, you self-righteous clown," White said. "Are you out of your mind?”
Asked if the UFC will ever fight in Boston again, White said “we'll see how this vote goes Wednesday.”
Despite his concerns, White doesn't expect the proposal to ultimately pass.
“I would be shocked, I would be floored, if [this] passes too,” he said.
Massachusetts state law already requires children 16 and under to attend amateur and professional cage fighting events with a parent, which the UFC is supportive of.
But White says this proposal is going too far.
White's argued that children are exposed to similar, if not worse, violence at other professional sporting events. He even drew reference to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with murder back in June, as well as Red Sox-Yankees games.
“For them to try to propose this under 18 rule, I'm sure a few of you have been to the Red Sox before,” White said. “Red Sox versus the Yankees, you ever see the type of stuff that goes on at a Red Sox-Yankees game? That stuff doesn't happen at UFC fights, right?”
White said he's had officials attending these hearings, although he himself hasn't been there, and the situation will be the same on Wednesday. It doesn't mean he didn't have plenty to say about it, however.
“When you elect politicians, politicians are supposed to create more jobs, they're supposed to do great things for the city, they're supposed to bring events in to create revenue for the city, business owners that live in the city and do business in the city and they do the exact opposite because they're being funded by the union or whatever else it might be,” White said.
Most importantly for White, the problems with bringing UFC to Boston this year are over. And it was in part thanks to the failures of Murphy and others who challenged him.
“Success for them would be for the event to not happen,” White said. They weren't successful at anything because even the 18-and-under vote doesn't happen until Wednesday.”