Heavy.com's Jeremy Botter is reporting that the UFC's second show on Versus is being moved from Salt Lake City to San Diego. The August 1st event, which features Jon Jones and Vladimir Matyushenko in the main event, was to mark the promotion's debut in Utah and religion may play a part in the move:
Sources close to the event informed Heavy.com of the switch this morning. An official announcement is expected to be made shortly....Many onlookers had questioned the original plan of holding a UFC event on a Sunday night in Salt Lake City, a city with heavy Mormon influences.
The second show on Versus was originally announced by Dana White soon after the organization's first Versus event as emenating from Oakland, California. Instead, Oakland plays host to UFC 117 on August 7th and Utah is left high and dry.
Utah, at least, will always have one immortal MMA moment. After the break...
[UPDATE from Luke Thomas]: The L.A. Times' Lance Pugmire reports on Twitter:
Dana White says he moved card to San Diego due to poor ticket sales in Utah...
We will try to determine if it's true. Either scenario - pushback from indigenous religious communities or poor ticket sales or poor ticket sales due to religious proclivities, habits - seems plausible on first glance, although the ticket sales would have to be exceptionally poor for such a dramatic move to be made. Historically the UFC has shown some willingness to paper events in cities with relatively lackluster ticket sales, although those events also achieved a baseline ticket sales threshold where papering the remainder of the seats made sense. More to come.
[UPDATE 2 from Luke Thomas] UFC issues a statement on the historic switch:
In a statement released by the organization Monday, UFC president Dana White cited a lack of ticket sales as the main reason the UFC on VERSUS 2 event was being moved.
According to White, it's the first time in the company's history a venue has been changed after tickets already went on sale.
"Our television ratings in Salt Lake City have always been strong," White said. "When we finally found the opportunity to bring a UFC event there with a great card, I was very surprised and disappointed in ticket sales.
"As a result, for the first time in UFC history, I decided to pull the plug and move this August 1st event to the San Diego Sports Arena."
Travis Fulton vs Jeremy Bullock (via ozzycrue)