As much of the US continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions, the UFC has found themselves back on the road. Over the years the world’s largest MMA promotion has built a reputation for constant travel, putting on events not just across the country, but all over the world. The pandemic stopped much of that cold, with the UFC relegated to their home Apex facility in Vegas and the ‘Fight Island’ campus in Abu Dhabi.
Starting back in April, however, the Endeavor-owned company was once again on the move, taking their UFC 261 PPV event to Jacksonville, FL. Last weekend the UFC was in Houston when Charles Oliveira bested Michael Chandler to win the vacated lightweight title. And next month they’ll head to Arizona for Israel Adesanya’s middleweight title defense against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263.
All of which has led some to wonder if the UFC would start moving their smaller shows to other cities around the US as well. Speaking to the assembled media following UFC 262, Dana White made it clear that the promotion has no plans to take Fight Night cards out of the Apex facility in 2021 (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“We’re not even looking at [traveling for] Fight Nights,” White told reporters. “We didn’t even have gates in our budget until October or November, so right now to start trying to find places for Fight Nights, it just makes no sense. We’ll stay at the cozy APEX and do our thing for the rest of the year, I think.”
That doesn’t mean the promotion is looking to keep the events there for the long-term future, however. Speaking about years upcoming, White made it clear that he views the UFC’s willingness to bring events to every corner of the globe as a major factor in the company’s ongoing success.
“No,” White responded, when asked if the UFC was going to keep their Fight Night cards at the Apex permanently. “One of the reasons that I believe personally that this sport has grown as big and fast as it is, is because we take this thing all over the world. We go into Oklahoma and places where people usually don’t get fights. So the Fight Nights are a big part of our brand. We’ll continue to do it when the whole country opens up.”
This weekend, however, the UFC is right back home at the Apex facility for their 46th event on ESPN+, headlined by a bantamweight top contender’s bout between former champion Cody Garbrandt and rising contender Rob Font. A women’s strawweight top contender’s bout between Carla Esparza and Yan Xiaonan is expected for the co-main event.