— Ultimate fighting's been banned in Illinois for years, but now that the sport's cleaned itself up and become more respectable, Illinois appears to be on the verge of lifting that ban.
MMA events have taken place in Illinois before, but none by the UFC, which has been waiting for sanctioning by the Illinois Athletic Commission (the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation) which would regulate MMA fighting along with boxing. Previous MMA events in Illinois have simply been granted waivers by the commission.
Now a bill sponsored by Senator James DeLeo and Representative Angelo Saviano has been unanimously passed by the Senate Licensed Activities Committee and is expected to be passed to the full Senate later this month.
''There are very few formidable opponents to this,'' DeLeo said.
DeLeo said that the UFC "is coming to Illinois. It's in 22 states. They want to go to the big venues. It's [on] ESPN, pay-per-view. It's become international. So if it's coming to Illinois, we think it should be regulated. …. It's a very legitimate sport.''
''We've been in conversations with the United Center and Allstate Arena,'' said UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner. ''This is a very positive step. We know Illinois -- and Chicago especially -- will be a great market for us. But until we have that bill signed and the athletic commission has the rules in place, we can't go there.''
UFC president Dana White said he hopes to hold a UFC card in Chicago within the next six months or so.
''Once the legislation is in place, we'll move very quickly and be there soon. I hope to be there by the end of this year. I'm excited,'' White told the Chicago Sun-Times.
''We should have been in Chicago a long time ago. We're going to rock that town -- blow it out.''
-Mel, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune
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Original article at http://www.buddytv.com/articles/ufc/ufc_wants_to_go_to_chicago_as-6560.aspx