UFC on Fox Sports 1 #1 could be in jeopardy due to a Massachusetts state law that prevents fighters without Social Security numbers from obtaining licenses to fight, according to a report on Tuesday from the Boston Herald.
The law would prevent a number of fighters on the card, for example, main event participant Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, from being able to compete in the Octagon in Boston’s TD Garden on Aug. 17.
“This law has been in existence since we legalized mixed martial arts in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Terrell Harris, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, told the newspaper. “It’s been brought to the attention of the UFC more than a few times since we legalized the fighting here. But they’ve chosen basically to ignore the law and hope that they could skirt it somehow.”
The report added that UFC officials approached the Department of Public Safety to make a one-time exception and allow fighters on the August card to compete with or without Social Security numbers, but the governing body told the MMA promotion that state law prohibits licensure to fighters without the proper documentation.
“They’ve approached us and asked us if we could make exceptions to the law for them,” Harris said. “But the law is the law. The law doesn’t allow us to make exceptions.”
Harris added that the Social Security Administration can issue a temporary work visa to fighters that are not American citizens, but that it’s up to the UFC to “do their due diligence.”
GRACIEMAG.com attempted contacting UFC officials about the issue, but an email requesting comment was not returned at the time of this publication.
Shogun is currently scheduled to face Chael Sonnen in the card’s featured bout, while Alistair Overeem, another foreign-born fighter, is tabbed to fight Travis Browne in the co-main event.
UPDATE: 4:16 p.m. PT
The UFC issued a statement Thursday afternoon through their website, addressing questions about the licensure of fighters without Social Security numbers.
“There were some questions that surfaced regarding licensing requirements for mixed martial artists and boxers to have social security numbers in order to compete in the state of Massachusetts,” the statement read. “Last week, these requirements were brought to UFC’s attention and we immediately began working to ensure that all athletes affected by this are in full compliance. We are continuing to work on this and anticipate a positive outcome.”
Tickets for the event went on sale today, Tuesday, according to a press release received by GRACIEMAG.com.