From its humble beginnings at UFC1, with just eight fighters, including WWF’s Ken Shamrock, Sumo wrestler Teila Tuli as well as UFC Hall of Famer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Royce Gracie, to the global phenomenon it is today, the UFC has come a long way. The hugely controversial fight between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, that saw the UFC’s Golden Girl knocked off of her throne had a record attendance of 56,214 fans, at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, well over seven times the attendance of the first ever UFC event back in 1993. This fight had online betting fans spitting feathers, as the possibility of the champ remaining undefeated was crushed.
Since then, the franchise has rapidly spread across the globe, finding its way into unlikely territories such as South Korea, Abu Dhabi and even Russia. We take a look at the cities across the world that have been the most popular locations around the world for UFC.
Saitama – Japan (5)
Japan has hosted nine UFC events in total: the other four venues were Tokyo (twice), Chiba and Yokohama. The most recent event to take place in Saitama was UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami in September 2017, at the goliath Saitama Super Arena, the third biggest indoor arena. Sadly for Japanese fans, within just two minutes of the headline fight, Yushin Okami was defeated via a Von Flue choke, rendering him unconscious.
Stockholm – Sweden (5)
The second most popular European city for UFC events, Sweden’s capital is the only Scandinavian city in history to have hosted the franchise. It’s most recent event was UFC Fight Night 109 (Gustafsson vs. Teixeira) in May 2017 at the Ericsson Globe. The event was initially rumoured to be taking place at the newly opened Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, marking a first for the franchise. However, it was eventually decided that the fight would take place in Sweden. In the fifth round, native Alexander Gustafsson defeated Brazilian Glover Teixeira with a flurry of punches, resulting in a knockout.
Montreal, Quebec – Canada (7)
Despite not hosting an event for over three years, Montreal is one of the most popular locations outside the United States to host UFC events, having held seven since the first one a decade ago. UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi was held at the Bell Centre, and ended with American Demetrious Johnson offering a crushing defeat for Kyoji Horiguchi, when he submitted to an arm bar in the final second of the fifth round.
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil (9)
Due to its famed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu style, Rio often plays host to huge pay-per-view headline events such as Holloway Aldo at UFC 212, Nunes Pennington at UFC 224 and the now infamous Rousey Correia at UFC 190, where Rousey knocked out Correia with a single punch just 34 seconds into the first round.
Atlantic City, New Jersey – USA (9)
Hosting its first UFC event nearly 18 years ago, Atlantic City has held nine fights, including some of the earliest events under Dana White’s management, including the now infamous UFC 31, described by Dana White on many occasions as one of the best fight cards ever, mainly due to the main event and the bout between Matt Serra and Shonie Carter which involved the infamous back fist finish.
London – England (10)
First debuting in London all the way back in 2002, at the highly prestigious Royal Albert Hall, the UFC has held no fewer than ten events in England’s capital. The UK overall has hosted 23 events, the fourth most popular location in the world and the most popular location outside North America. The biggest event held in London to date was UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama, which set a new European attendance record of 17,133, the ninth highest attended UFC event at the time. The fight was made even more special, when native fighter Michael Bisping defeated opponent Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision at the end of the third round.
Las Vegas – USA (117)
A shock to nobody, Las Vegas, Nevada, the city that never sleeps and is home to the UFC, comes in with a whopping 117 events hosted to date. Home to President, Dana White, along with some of the most successful stars in UFC history including Conor McGregor and Australian flyweight powerhouse Jessica-Rose Clark, it’s no surprise that UFC is drawn to Sin City. The biggest UFC event to be held in Las Vegas to date was the return of Ronda Rousey against Women’s Bantamweight Championship Amanda Nunes in front of 18,533 fans. Rousey lost the match to a flurry of punches in the opening minute of the first round, eventually stepping away from the UFC and moving into WWE.
Did your city show up on our list? Or have you ever attended a UFC fight in one of those locations mentioned? Be sure to let us know in the comments!