The UFC is returning to the United Kingdom with a pay-per-view event next year.
The promotion announced on Wednesday that UFC 286 is officially scheduled for Sat., March 18, 2023, at The O2 Arena in London, England. It is the first pay-per-view event since UFC 204, where Michael Bisping defended the UFC middleweight championship against Dan Henderson at the AO Arena in Manchester.
The UFC held two events at The O2 Arena in London this year: UFC London 2022: Volkov vs. Aspinall in March and UFC London 2022: Blaydes vs. Aspinall in July. Following the success of those events, UFC president Dana White was eager to return to the same venue.
“Everyone knows how much I love our fans in the UK,” said White via press release. “We had two incredible shows in London in 2022, and this time we’re bringing a world title fight with the biggest and baddest card we could put together at The O2 on March 18. The UK MMA scene is exploding with talent right now and I can’t wait to show you guys what we have in store for you next year.”
Though it was not announced, the world title fight White could be referring to is Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3. After ‘Rocky’ stunned the world and dethroned the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ by fifth-round KO at UFC 278 in August, both men expressed interest in completing their trilogy in the U.K. The newly crowned UFC welterweight champion hoped for a stadium show in Wembley or Cardiff, but White said he was concerned about either of those locations as their venues are outdoors.
“We can go to England whenever the hell we want to now,” said White at his post-fight press conference for UFC 278. “I mean, we could go to England — we were selling out England before. Now you start looking at, do you do a bigger arena? And I’m scared to go outside. I’m definitely scared to go outside in England, so I’m serious, but joking about Wembley. Anything is possible in England now.
“It would be fun, but yeah, it’s scary at the same time,” continued White. “The weather isn’t the greatest over there in England.”
No other fights were announced for the pay-per-view event.
Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates to UFC 286 as they become available in the coming weeks.