First professional mixed martial arts card coming to Capital Region

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — UFC is coming to the Capital Region this Friday. It will be the first professional mixed martial arts fight in the area since the sport became legalized.

Fans came out on Wednesday to get a look at some of the fighters on Friday’s card and for some of the athletes practicing Wednesday, it’s their first fight in their home state of New York since professional MMA was legalized.

Gian Villante hails from Long Island and Friday will be the first time he’s able to fight in his home state.

“Just to have the UFC in New York, it kind of legitimizes it big time because why would one state be holding out opposed to everyone else,” Villante said.

The number 15 ranked UFC light heavyweight says he’s excited for friends and family to see him compete in New York and he’s hoping for a warm welcome.

“I can’t really think of a time that I’ve had too positive of a reaction walking in because I’ve never fought in front of my home state before,” Villante said.

Fans are excited too. Many including Michael Walter came out to get a look at the workouts too.

“This is a milestone and I couldn’t miss it or wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Walter said.

Another person who wouldn’t miss it is Villante’s fellow UFC fighter and sparring partner Chris Weidman.

“In the future, it’s just going to get bigger and better,” Weidman said.

The last time Weidman was in Albany, he was here fighting for the law to legalize his sport.

“To be here for an event is definitely an awesome thing and to see my boy Villante be able to do it in front of a home crowd is an awesome thing to see,” Weidman added.

Villante assured his fans they’ll get a good show at the Times Union Center come Friday night.

“If you like watching good fights and you like watching guys who go in there and put on a good show and an exciting fight, that’s going to be me,” Villante said.

Doors open Friday at the TU Center at 4:30 p.m. and the event starts at 5:30 p.m.

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