Three Venues MMA Could Use for a Big Pay-Per-View Event

MMA is a hugely popular sport across the world, with pay-per-view events attracting increasing numbers. The most popular brand in MMA is undoubtedly the UFC, and the American company attracts the world’s biggest names into the Octagon. 

Sport Bible reported that UFC 251 brought in around 1.3m buys, 900,000 of which came from inside the United States. Contrast that with wrestling event WrestleMania, which usually attracts over 1m pay-per-view (PPV) buys and led to huge sell-out stadium shows.

UFC 251 took place in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island, but the major events (minus the pandemic) are primarily held in the United States. In a bwin graphic on MMA events, it reveals that the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has hosted more events than anywhere else in the US – 43 in total. Las Vegas is very much the home of the UFC, but other indoor arenas have held events in the past.

WrestleMania, whilst billed as sport’s entertainment, rather than a sport, soon migrated to some of the biggest arenas in the world, with the AT&T Stadium seeing 101,763 attend WrestleMania 32 in 2016. Could the UFC, a more authentic fighting experience, possibly draw the same crowds, or even half as many? The PPV figures suggest so, but which arenas in the United States would suit such events once the pandemic eases?

Credit: Jim Bahn, Broncos vs 49ers preseason game at Levi’s Stadium, CC BY 2.0

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara

The last time the UFC came to California was for UFC 241, where a Heavyweight Championship rematch between Daniel Cormier and former champion Stipe Miocic took top billing. It was held at the 17,000 capacity Honda Center, but the home of the 49ers would make sense for a huge outdoor event.

The UFC has not utilised outdoor settings all that often, but if they want to attract the bumper crowds then it makes sense to take the promotion outdoors. The stadium could stretch to 76,000 capacity and has already hosted a Super Bowl and WrestleMania 31. The latter event drew 76,976 and resulted in a gate of $12.6m.


Credit: John Pellino, Michie Stadium West, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons


Michie Stadium, New York

Madison Square Garden is the obvious UFC venue in New York, and having hosted UFC 244 with some success it is likely to return there again. MSG can pack in around 20,000 spectators, but if Dana White wanted more at his events, then the Michie Stadium on the campus of the US Military Academy would make a great venue.

It is an authentic American venue, having been in operation since 1924, and could fit in upwards of 38,000 hungry MMA fans. Again, it would be an open-air event, but it offers a spectacular backdrop with the Hudson running alongside.


Credit: AndrewHorne, Michigan Stadium 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

If Dana White really wants to truly take MMA into the big time in terms of spectator events, then the Michigan Stadium would be the one to fill. It boasts a capacity of 107,000, which would rise with the ringside area taking up part of what is currently the football pitch.

Built in 1927, the University of Michigan-owned stadium has broken several attendance records, with 109,000 attending a football match between Manchester United and Real Madrid in 2014.

The last time the UFC ventured into Michigan was for UFC 218, where 17,587 watched Max Holloway defeat Jose Aldo over three rounds.


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