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If you thought the UFC would wrap a chokehold around big-ticket MMA events at Madison Square Garden, think again.
World Series of Fighting officials announced Saturday night that WSOF 36 would take place at the historic New York City venue's theater (a 5,500-seat venue) on New Year's Eve. The news was announced during the WSOF 32 broadcast and later in a news release sent to media members, including Bleacher Report. Dana Becker of MMA News was the first to report on the announcement.
There is no word yet on who might appear on the card, which is still pending approval from the New York State athletic commission. But it's a safe bet the company will book as many of its top fighters for the event as humanly possible. That's especially true given that the event will, according to the WSOF statement, air live on NBC.
According to the statement, WSOF CEO Carlos Silva said the following about the event:
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our exciting, world championship live event series to The Big Apple, where fans have been anxiously waiting for years, for live, professional MMA action to be able to happen in their city. ...We have been working diligently with the staff at the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the executives at Madison Square Garden to complete all of the necessary steps to make this historic and great event happen on New Year’s Eve.
As most MMA fans know, this spring New York lawmakers legalized pro MMA inside state boundaries following a years-long and highly politicized struggle between fight promoters and elected officials. At the time, New York was the only remaining state in America with an MMA ban in place.
Not a month later, the UFC became the first MMA promotion to plant its flag in Madison Square Garden, the venerable Manhattan sports arena that has played host to some of the biggest moments in combat sports history. UFC 205 will take place at MSG in November; no bouts have yet been announced for the card.
That will be a history-making event, but it's no longer the only one happening in the Garden this year.
Bellator MMA also is reportedly seeking to schedule an event in The Big Apple, potentially at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. So far, though, there has been no official word on what Bellator might be planning or when.