UFC fans in the UK have voiced their disappointment after it was announced that the franchise would be returning to the O2 in London and not Cardiff as many had hoped.
UFC visited London twice this year, but many fans missed out as tickets for the 20,000-seater 02 in London were quickly snapped up during the pre-sale. UFC 286 on March 18, 2023, is set to be bigger and the first time a pay-per-view event is held in the UK since 2016.
Fans have been left furious that the the O2 in London has been selected instead of the 74,500 Principality Stadium in Cardiff, which recently hosted WWE Clash at the Castle.
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Fans took to social media to voice their anger at the decision. One fan, @AbayomiMaja wrote: "All this talk of Wembley and Cardiff just to do the O2 again. What a let down."
MMA writer Val Dewar took took aim at UFC president Dana White, who had previously claimed the franchise would only visit a venue with a closed roof.
He tweeted: "I really feel like Dana & Co don't do anything new, like going to a stadium, cuz of laziness with their brand," another fan added. "They've built it up to a massive money making point and now they're content to do what's been working instead of trying new s***.
"There's covered stadiums in England, Cardiff is the third biggest covered stadium in the world and that was the rumour for this card, and is somewhat near Leon's hometown I believe.
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"They sold out UFC London last two times before tickets came off pre-sale. Demand is insanely high, that wasn't gonna be an issue."
Leon Edwards became UK's second-ever UFC champion after knocking out Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title back in August. A main event has yet to be announced but a trilogy bout between Birmingham fighter Edwards and Usman is likely to be on the card.
Fans were gutted that a bigger venue wasn't selected to allow Edwards to compete in front of a bigger crowd for his homecoming.
"How are they not giving Leon Edwards a stadium to defend his belt is such a missed opportunity Cardiff can literally close the roof it's perfect, disappointed for Leon man," said @HeartmadeofSnow.
Fellow British UFC stars Molly McCann, Tom Aspinall and Paddy Pimblett produced wins when the franchise visited the UK earlier this year and fans are again keen to see them back in action. However, with the O2 in London hosting the event supporters expect prices to be at a premium.
@Lloyd_Kent added: "Why wouldn't you put this in a proper stadium?! Zero chance of getting tickets or paying 4x face value. You've got the Principality Stadium in Cardiff that could be used. UFC dropped the ball on this one big time."
Tickets for UFC 286 will go on sale on January 27.
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