UFC president blames culinary union for blocking mixed martial arts in New York State

UFC President Dana White threw some verbal jabs Tuesday at Culinary Local 226, blaming the 60,000-member union for using its political muscle to stop the legalization of UFC and mixed martial arts fights in New York state.

“They’re dirty, dirty, dirty,” White said in the Las Vegas City Hall lobby after an announcement ceremony held by the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame. White was among the 2013 inductees.

“You got these guys who are negative and dirty,” he said. “They’re using their influence in New York to stop the fights from being sanctioned. They’re stopping New York state from making money.”

Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, was in Albany, N.Y., last week to lobby state lawmakers to make the sport legal. The sport has been illegal in New York since 1997.

The New York Senate last week approved legalizing MMA events, voting in favor of the bill for the fourth year in a row. But the state Assembly needs to approve the law before Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a chance to sign it. The bill has died in the Assembly in previous years because Speaker Sheldon Silver has not introduced it to the floor for a vote.

White called out the Culinary, which represents hotel and restaurant workers in Las Vegas, saying the union is costing jobs in New York because UFC would have four events a year in the state.

Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director, declined to comment directly on White’s remarks. She sent a union media release, dated March 14, that described women’s advocates worldwide demanding UFC adopt a zero tolerance policy for rape jokes, misogyny and sexism in a petition signed by people and women’s groups in 47 states and 24 countries.

UFC “fights are broadcast in over 149 countries and territories to nearly a billion homes,” the release said. “UFC fighters have joked about rape, and fighters and UFC representatives have used foul and abusive language that is particularly demeaning to women.”

The petition was delivered Friday to FOX Sports in Los Angeles and UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC, in Las Vegas. The union also pointed out Zuffa has made political contributions to New York lawmakers in hopes of legalizing UFC events, citing the Albany Times Union .

The union has been battling Fertitta and brother Frank Fertitta III, who both own Station Casinos, nonunion properties.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273.