May 19, 2019 04:38 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — More than 8,000 fans piled into the Blue Cross Arena for UFC Fight Night.
The first UFC fight happened in New York back in 2016 after close to two decades of a ban on Mixed Martial Arts fighting. Three years later the sport made its way to Rochester for the first time on a large scale.
Something fans say they've been anticipating for a long time.
"We were thinking about going to UFC in New York City," fan Nicholas Nelepovitz said. "So being able to come somewhere so close is very powerful."
UFC officials say Fight Night racked in more than half a million dollars in revenue.
"It has shown the growth of the sport from some people thinking it was barbaric to knowing now it's a very controlled sport," said fan Musaib Baiyana.
Marc Ratner, Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs, says he visited Albany more than two dozen times lobbying lawmakers to allow the sport in the state. Ratner says there is a huge economic impact on any city the sport visits.
"Between all of our production and staff that's probably about two to three hundred rooms a night...that's without even buying a drink or a meal," Ratner said.
The Blue Cross UFC debut allowed Desmond Green, a Rush Henrietta graduate, to get a win in his hometown.
"It's not just a win for me, it's a win for the sport, it's a win for the city," Green said. "We're bringing so much revenue here. I heard we're almost selling out the Blue Cross so I hope we can bring it back here."
Fans hope events like UFC continue to come to Rochester.
"I think it's great for the city because we don't have any major sports teams and this puts a national spotlight on Rochester, New York," fan Musaib Baiyana said.
Updated: May 19, 2019 04:38 PM
Created: May 18, 2019 11:40 PM
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