Where Should the UFC Go Between Now and 2026?
Don’t look now, but in about two months, 2023 will be sent to the history file. Just where does the time go? It really makes one wonder.
With the close of another year looming, UFC President Dana White and his team are already hard at work putting together the early portion of the promotion’s 2024 schedule of events and the itinerary for those cards. As it stands currently, 2024’s calendar will begin for the top MMA promotion on Jan. 18.
That night, they’ll be in Las Vegas at an undisclosed location for a UFC Fight Night (also titled UFC Vegas 83.) Andrei Arlovski is presently forecast to square off against Waldo Cortes-Acosta on the first card of the new year.
A week later they’ll go to pay-per-view for the first time in 2024 with UFC 297. The Jan. 20 card is slated to be capped off by a battle for supremacy at 145 lbs. between current champion Alexander Volkanovski and No. 5 contender Ilia Topuria in Toronto.
Where the UFC Needs to Go
That only fills in a couple of the blanks. More dates for the new year will be added as time progresses. Earlier this week, MMASucka presented a column outlining arenas and markets that the UFC should avoid.
In order to present both sides of the topic, we now present some suggestions for future host venues that the promotion should actively explore within the next couple of years. There are many arena/ city combinations to choose from out there.
You could sit at your computer chair for at least the next week and come up with any number of options, and we have several lined up right here.
Before we get started, we’re going to establish a set of parameters to make this list smoothly.
- First and foremost, venues listed here may not already be on the upcoming schedule of events for either the remainder of 2023 or early 2024 as of this writing. This means that markets like Shanghai, which is scheduled to host the Dec. 9 card, will not be considered.
- Venues and/or areas that are considered regular or annual stops on the UFC’s itinerary will also be off-limits here. You won’t be seeing the likes of T-Mobile Arena, Madison Square Garden, or the UFC Apex today.
- Arenas which have already hosted a UFC card, either a flagship event or a Fight Night, within the last two years will not be among those listed.
- Finally, all predictions are valid through 2025.
The UFC Should Come Back to the 216
Cleveland, Ohio is a great sports town. Whether it’s a high school football game night, a Browns home game, Cavaliers basketball, or a day at Progressive Field with the Guardians, those calling the 216 area code home are always fiery and passionate about sports.
If you are lucky enough to know a Cleveland sports fan, they’ll tell you everything you will need to know on this topic. While Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse played host to Matchroom Boxing last year, it’s been a minute since the Cavs’ home court served as the site of a UFC card.
Seven years ago, Stipe Miocic successfully defended the UFC Heavyweight Championship in front of a hometown crowd during UFC 203 less than three months after the Cavs won the 2015-16 NBA title. That’s been the extent of the promotion’s time in Cleveland.
Miocic Can Headline Again
The UFC heavyweight title picture was thrown into a state of flux recently. A planned fight matching Miocic with Jon Jones for the title was scrubbed after the latter sustained a torn pectoral. Despite this, the promotion still intends to rebook this bout when it’s safe for “Bones” to fight again.
Why not schedule the makeup date of this fight for Cleveland? You’ll have two marquee fighters going at it. A night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse has been amazing in the past. If the UFC comes back to Cleveland, it will be awesome again.
What About The Motor City?
Let’s go to the state up north, what Ohioans “affectionately” dub Michigan. Detroit, like Cleveland, is a wonderful metro area as far as athletic competition is concerned.
The Motor City boasts one team from each of the four major sports teams, plus Ford Field served as a hub venue for the USFL this past spring, with the Michigan Panthers calling the Lions‘ stadium home. Just as is the case in Cleveland, the UFC hasn’t traveled to Detroit in a long time.
In December of 2017, Little Caesars Arena played host to UFC 218. That night, Max Holloway scored a third-round knockout of Jose Aldo to retain the featherweight strap.
UFC Infrequent Visitors to Detroit
All told, UFC 218 served as only the third visit ever to the Detroit area and the first since 2010, when UFC 123 was held at the now-closed Palace of Auburn Hills. This is a market hungry for more top-tier fights.
If the UFC were to announce a Detroit event next week, one can surmise how quickly the tickets would be sold out. Why not go for a drive in the Motor City in the future?
Everything’s Bigger in (North) Texas
The Dallas metropolitan area is one of America’s premier sports cities. While the UFC is slated to hold a Fight Night in Austin before the end of this year, Dallas hasn’t seen the Octagon since May of 2017.
On the eve of Mother’s Day that year, American Airlines Center saw Miocic defend the heavyweight belt with a first-round knockout of Junior dos Santos in UFC 211. All four UFC events in Dallas have been held at the home venue of the Dallas Mavericks.
There’s an old saying: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” If the UFC wants to put a marquee fight in Dallas, they’ll need to consider nearby Arlington in the future.
Why Not AT&T Stadium?
AT&T Stadium, the home field of the Dallas Cowboys and host venue for the Cotton Bowl, has seen its name come up more than a few times as a possible site for a UFC card. To date, nothing has ever materialized.
This could change. Earlier this year, the stadium was linked to a future Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler fight.
At maximum capacity, AT&T Stadium, also known as “JerryWorld”, seats 80,000 fans on a good day. Factoring standing-room only tickets, the venue can welcome 105,000.
AT&T Stadium hosts the Cotton Bowl every year. It hosted the Super Bowl in its second year of operation. The venue will also hold select matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
If it can put on events like this, along with a Canelo fight, why not a UFC show?
Where would you like to see the UFC go to next? Let us know in the comments.