Could the Ultimate Fighting Championship be heading to Arizona?
UFC owner Dana White seems to think so, since Nevada, where the UFC prefers to host it's events, is still shut down due to COVID-19
Governor Doug Ducey recently made it clear, Arizona is open for business and professional sports leagues are at the top of the list.
“This is a good way to sort of test could you host the NHL playoffs or major league baseball if it came down to that,” said Luke Lapinski.
Lapinski, host of the Rundown on Arizona Sports 987 FM, says it’s an opportunity for the state if it happens, but it comes with challenges.
"You're gonna have to make sure everybody’s tested obviously, you’re gonna have to keep all of the competitors and people directly around them, you’re gonna have to keep them isolated and it’s not an easy thing to do,” said Lapinski.
While a number of venues could host the event, Gila River Arena in Glendale seems to be the front runner.
“The city has already pulled off the Super Bowl and other events out there, now specifically at Gila River, like you said, you’ve got the hotels right there so it’s not as difficult to sort of isolate everybody there as their own community for a couple days,” said Lapinski.
The event would take place without fans and wouldn’t offer much in the form of economic revenue for the city but leaders there seem to be on board saying in a statement:
“Due to the leadership of Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona is now open to all sports and promotional entities that would like to televise their events. As professional sports leagues and others begin to make plans about how to responsibly and safely return and bring their products to the public, the City of Glendale stands ready and willing to welcome any of these events to our sports facilities," said a spokesperson with the City of Glendale.
Mixed Martial Arts trainer Chad Leki says it’s an opportunity the state shouldn’t pass up.
“Just the sport in general brings a lot of notoriety to the state itself, so down the road it will be a great branding opportunity for the UFC and the state of Arizona,” said Leki.
ABC15 reached out to Gila River Arena officials for comment but did not hear back.
While the entire deal hinges on the City of Las Vegas continuing their ban on combat sports, it’s anyone’s guess which way this scenario will play out.
“I’ll say 30 percent but that’s one of those things that could change, it could be 80 percent tomorrow, it could be zero percent tomorrow,” said Lapinski.