The UFC will continue to hold regular Fight Night events at their Apex facility in Las Vegas coming into 2024.
The Apex became the UFC’s base of operations in North America during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it worked pretty well as a last-resort. But now that the pandemic is over and all other sports have resumed in arenas around the world, the UFC continues to hold events in their relatively small studio space.
Fans that had hoped to see the UFC hit the road again in 2024 will be disappointed by this news: MMA Junkie’s Nolan King reports the promotion has requested permits from the NSAC for three Apex events in four weeks: on March 16th, March 23, and April 6th.
Why does the UFC refuse to go back to holding fight nights in smaller markets across America and beyond? Ease and cost are two obvious answers. There’s less pressure on matchmakers to stack cards when you don’t have to worry about selling out arenas in Nebraska. And why put in all the effort to travel about when fans have seemingly accepted watching fights in the Apex?
There is another element to this, though: the UFC is pushing hard to collect site fees whenever they bring their show to town. At a recent conference event, TKO COO Mark Shapiro bragged about recent deals of this sort. They’re getting $16 million from Australia, $20 million from Saudi Arabia, and $25 million from Abu Dhabi.
On live event site fees, he says they’ve done a deal for $16M for “a combination of events” in Australia, presumably this includes WWE’s Elimination Chamber event in Perth in February.
$20M for UFC Fight Night in Saudi Arabia.
$25M for UFC event in Abu Dhabi.
WWE gets more… pic.twitter.com/kGEWdQ2kEi
— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) December 5, 2023
It’s not just international events, either. Utah pays for UFC to come to Salt Lake City, and a lucrative deal with the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas ensures the UFC returns there regularly. At this point, we’d be shocked if the UFC rolls into any mid-tier market without a six or seven figure deal in place.
So be prepared for more Apex events. If there’s not a buyer lined up for a show, that’s probably where it’s gonna be held.