Sydney will host a series of multi-million dollar events through a partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship – but Australia’s best fighter, Alex Volkanovski, isn’t favoured to headline the first event.
NSW Premier Chris Minns announced the $16million partnership on Thursday, saying three UFC Pay Per View events would take place in Sydney over the next four years, starting with the UFC 293 on September 10.
The events would bring the most competitive mixed martial arts athletes in the world to Sydney and showcase the Harbour City to millions of international viewers and visitors, he said.
Mr Minns described the deal as ‘a major coup for the people of NSW’ and delivered on an election commitment.
‘We continue securing a calendar of exclusive, diverse and unmissable events to boost our visitor economy, support local businesses and create more jobs, and that’s exactly what these UFC events will do.’
Ex-champion Rob Whittaker is reportedly favoured to headline UFC 293 in Sydney on September 10
The Harbour City will host a series of multi-million dollar events through a partnership with the UFC, with three cards planned for the next four years
Rob Whittaker is reportedly favoured to headline UFC 293 – which might be tricky for the former middleweight champion as he is booked to fight just nine weeks before at UFC 290.
Whittaker is scheduled to clash with South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis in a middleweight No.1 contenders bout on July 8 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
UFC boss Dana White has indicated that the winner will face champion Israel Adesanya in Sydney – meaning either Whittaker of Du Plessis will have just nine weeks to prepare for the world title fight in Sydney.
Fox Sports Australia is reporting that sources close to Whittaker say he is excited by the challenge, despite the tricky turnaround.
Alex Volkanovski will be fighting Mexico’s interim champ Yair Rodriguez on July 8 and – should he win – will most likely be chasing a rematch with UFC lightweight champ Islam Makhachev.
Given Makhachev has already made the trip to Australia to fight Volkanovski, the rematch bout is more likely to happen in Abu Dhabi in October.
Whittaker took to social media on Thursday morning to express his joy at the news of the promotion returning to New South Wales.
‘Stoked to have the office come to our backyard in September!’ he wrote on Twitter.
It is anticipated the UFC Pay Per View events in Sydney will attract tens of thousands of international and domestic tourists and inject tens of millions of dollars into the NSW visitor economy.
It would benefit hundreds of businesses and jobs across the NSW events sector, along with hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourism attractions, the premier said.
Alex Volkanovski will be fighting Mexico’s interim champ Yair Rodriguez on July 8 and is reportedly less likely to fight in Sydney on September 10
UFC boss Dana White has indicated that the winner of the Whittaker Dricus Du Plessis fight will face champion Israel Adesanya in Sydney
UFC 293 will mark the franchise’s return to Sydney for the first time since 2017 and will be the first mega Pay Per View event to be held in the city since 2011.
UFC 284 hosted earlier this year in Perth saw a record 68 per cent of ticket buyers travel from interstate or overseas, injecting millions into the local economy.
Pay Per View events are able to be viewed by more than 900 million TV households via 50 major sports broadcasters in 170 countries.
There are now more than 700 million UFC fans across the globe, including a combined 233 million followers across UFC’s social media channels.
In Australia and New Zealand combined, UFC has more than 4.3 million fans and six million social media followers.
UFC’s popularity has been soaring globally since Sydney hosted its first event, UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velasquez at Qudos Bank Arena in 2010.
UFC icon and Mount Druitt heavyweight Tai Tuivasa is certain to feature on the main card of the first Sydney event in September
The UFC 293 Main Event and Fight Card will be announced later.
UFC Vice President Australia and New Zealand Peter Kloczko says UFC events ‘are the pinnacle of sports and entertainment’.
‘Nothing compares to the UFC live event experience, which we are thrilled to be bringing to Sydney over the next four years,’ he said.
‘UFC events have massive local appeal with fans in all parts of Australia, while remaining relevant to a global audience of millions.’