UFC to extend partnership with Riyadh Season

Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, announced Tuesday the signing of a “strategic agreement” between Riyadh Season and the UFC that extends their partnership.

Alalshikh told ESPN there are plans to stage a major UFC event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the end of 2024 or beginning of 2025. He said the event would be “something big” in comparison to the UFC’s first event in Saudi Arabia, the June 22 card headlined by a middleweight bout between Robert Whittaker and Khamzat Chimaev.

Riyadh Season, an annual state-managed sports and entertainment festival that attracts sponsorships from some of the region’s most prominent companies, will sponsor UFC 306 on Sept. 14, the MMA promotion’s first event at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

Alalshikh said Riyadh Season signage will appear across UFC 306 branding and merchandise.

“This is a strong message to the market with [this] UFC [partnership],” Alalshikh told ESPN. “We are working with everyone. My favorite is boxing, but we will try to make Riyadh one of the biggest cities around the world in MMA.”

The UFC and WWE merged last year to form TKO, a publicly traded company. Since 2018, WWE has held at least one of its premium live events in Saudi Arabia. WWE first staged events in the kingdom in 2014.

On May 25, one week after the Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight championship boxing match in Riyadh, WWE will hold King and Queen of the Ring in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Alalshikh said an enhancement to Saudi Arabia’s existing agreement with WWE will be announced later this month. Specifically, Alalshikh is looking to bring January’s annual Royal Rumble or WWE’s top event, WrestleMania, to Saudi Arabia.

“We will do big things with the UFC and TKO,” Alalshikh said.

Additionally, Alalshikh announced Riyadh will host one of Dana White’s Power Slap events.

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