Best known for reaching the finals of Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Brooklyn native Phillipe Nover competes in his second fight for Bellator Fighting Championships on Friday against Derrick Kennington at Bellator 74 in Atlantic City. Training minutes from Madison Square Garden and living blocks from the brand new Barclays Center, Nover constantly feels the buzz generated by Manhattan's Knicks and especially Brooklyn's Nets, the first professional franchise to play in the borough since the Dodgers left in 1957.
But there's something remiss to an otherwise booming sports city and that's Mixed Martial Arts still not having a place to shine anywhere in the Big Apple. The New York State Senate has annually refused to sanction the sport, which has left the doors to the Garden closed to the UFC and other promotions.
Nover is one of many fighters who believe MMA saved his life. Rather than jump to the wrong conclusions, he suggests the Empire State's politicians lighten up and wake up.
"New York is pretty much the capital - everything happens here," Nover told SBNation New York. "If you look at MMA fighters in general, we're not knuckleheads, we're professional athletes. To be called barbaric, that's archaic itself, that statement. It's a shame that MMA is not legal in New York. I'm really crossing my fingers that in 2013 I will be able to fight in New York.
"There's still MMA going on in New York in the underground, and that's not right."
Despite going 1-4 in his last five fights and a checkered career that's seen him deal with fainting spells, a seizure, twice tearing a ligament in his foot and on the losing end of three controversial decisions, Nover, 28, is in an excellent frame of mind. He's finally healthy and has greatly improved a ground game that's cost him in the past.
More on Nover's story, along with Bellator 74 headliner Lyman Good, this week.
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