The UFC is an international phenomenon. UFC events have emanated from the bright lights of Las Vegas, the entertainment nucleus of the United States, all the way to the awe-inspiring city of Abu Dhabi.
Venues that host UFC events are the lifeblood of the sport. Madison Square Garden, Marvel Stadium, T-Mobile Arena, Etihad Stadium, the Bell Centre, transform into cathedrals of violence, temples of destruction and struggle, when mixed martial arts events roll through.
Las Vegas might be the fighting capital of the world, but a handful of other cities around the world have curated an unprecedented fan experience, mixing raw energy, wonder, and amazement.
Let’s journey through the best UFC venues across the globe.
T-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada
Augusta National is home to golf’s biggest major, The Masters. Wimbledon is home to the jewel of tennis, The Championships. And Churchill Downs hosts the greatest horse racing event in the world, the Kentucky Derby. Simply put, T-Mobile Arena is the home of the UFC.
It is the building where Conor McGregor beat Nate Diaz to a bloody pulp at UFC 202. Where Daniel Cormier became the second fighter in history to be champion in two divisions at the same time after defeating Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. Where McGregor tapped via a vicious rear-naked choke from Khabib Nurmagomedov in the biggest MMA PPV event of all time.
T-Mobile Arena showcases the promise of the mega intensity that big-time UFC bouts provide, and is the fitting home for UFC 276, the headliner of International Fight Week.
MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
Other than the UFC Apex, the MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted the second-most UFC events (42) in the U.S. Perhaps the most fierce rivalry in the sport’s history between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Lidell began here at UFC 66. Although it is no longer used for major fights, the Garden Arena is responsible for kickstarting UFC’s mainstream appeal and box-office success.
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
No matter the strength of the card or match quality, there is a different feeling, a special atmosphere, that the World’s Most Famous Arena provides. The UFC has only been to Madison Square Garden four times, but there is no denying its ability to get fighters and fans easily jacked up.
McGregor solidified himself as the sport’s most bankable superstar by becoming the Double Champ in MSG’s first UFC event. Jorge Masvidal won the “BMF” title against Diaz in a grueling bout. And the legendary Georges St-Pierre made his grand return against Michael Bisping at UFC 217.
Fight Island – Flash Forum and Etihad Arena at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the international epicenter of MMA. The UFC went big during the height of the COVID pandemic, bringing star fighters and wildly entertaining bouts to the capital city of Dubai. Fight Island gave fans stunning moments during a stressful time.
Israel Adesanya promised to knockout Paulo Costa at UFC 253, and did so with a powerful 1-2 to the temple and chin. Ariane Lipski had one of the best submission finishes of 2020, trapping Luana Carolina in a devastating kneebar. And Khabib went out victorious in his final fight against the venerable Justin Gaethje, proving to the world that he is the best fighter of his generation.
UFC Apex – Las Vegas, NV
UFC had to move fast to keep the sport alive during the pandemic. President Dana White turned to an empty office building across the street from the UFC headquarters to build a small arena. Crowds mean so much to UFC events, but the emotion of the fights at the Apex easily made up for the lack of fans.
Who could forget the remarkable main event of UFC 255, which saw top-ranked flyweight Brandon Moreno give flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo everything he had? Or Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker go the distance in an instant classic?
The Apex was everything and more during 2020.