LAS VEGAS – UFC Vice President of Community Relations Reed Harris and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin were among a small group of UFC officials on hand for Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada (also known simply as The Center).
The ceremony, which took place in Las Vegas on the site of the venue, served as the official start of construction of a new center for the non-profit organization, which was first founded in 1992.
The UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC, is an initial donor for the project. Other benefactors include Las Vegas-based companies Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, Station Casinos and Wynn Las Vegas.
"The UFC supports many worthwhile causes, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center's goals of supporting human rights and offering programs for health and wellness are important causes that the entire UFC organization supports," Harris told MMAjunkie.com
). "We are pleased to be able to show support for an organization that offers health and wellness programs and seeks to better our community."
According to the The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada's website, the non-profit organization "supports and promotes activities directed at furthering the well-being, positive image and human rights of the lesbian, gay, bi***ual, transgender, and queer community and its allies in Southern Nevada."
Griffin, winner of the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and a Las Vegas resident, is often involved in the UFC's community initiatives. A perennial fan favorite, Griffin said he was pleased to be on hand for the ceremony.
"It's always nice to be involved in any project that's helping to make Las Vegas better," Griffin said. "This is an impressive organization doing something worthwhile in a community that is both expanding and rebuilding. It's always nice to see the UFC back the local community."
The UFC and its president, Dana White, have faced past criticism from some gay and lesbian advocate groups, but The Center officials said those past issues are not reflective of the current climate and they are proud to have the world's leading MMA promotion involved in their efforts.
"The Center welcomes involvement from everyone who believes in our mission," Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada Executive Director Candice Nichols told MMAjunkie.com. "The Center is pleased to have support from so many organizations, corporations and individuals who believe in the good work we do in this community. We are grateful to Zuffa, LLC and UFC for their contribution and look forward to a long-term partnership."