Following Brett John‘s submission win last weekend, and with fellow Welshmen Jack Shore, Jack Marshman and John Phillips scheduled next month, what do they need to do to make UFC Cardiff a reality?
The UFC have made London an annual stop in its schedule, however, other UK UFC shows are scarce. The UK typically averages just one additional UFC date per year, but how can the UK get more?
How are these cities determined?
Perhaps Wales lacks a worthy UFC headliner to take the UFC back to their home country. Since 2014, the UFC have visited four UK cities five times excluding London. Two of those cities, Manchester and Liverpool, got those UFC events thanks to their headliners. Michael Bisping was given a homecoming in Manchester after capturing the UFC middleweight championship to avenge his loss to Dan Henderson. Bisping’s UFC title and his service to the UFC earned him and the city of Manchester that event, without Bisping, that never happens.
Similarly, Darren Till carried the UFC to Liverpool on his own back. The sheer popularity that he managed to build dragged the UFC into Merseyside for the first time, with the UFC even opting to relocate the event which was originally scheduled for Dublin.
Although not UK shows, Dublin has been relatively successful, landing two (almost three) UFC shows since 2014. The first of course being down to Conor McGregor. Although only ranked #12 at the time, McGregor brought the UFC to Ireland on his own, and despite his absence from future events, Irish fans were so captivating that the UFC returned just over a year later.
Other UK markets haven’t appealed to the UFC and bring events due to the lack of regional headline material. Cities such as Newcastle and Leeds or Sheffield in Yorkshire have failed to appeal to the UFC largely due to their lack of representatives within the organisation. Birmingham hasn’t hosted an event since 2011, but with Leon Edwards headlining in London, he could bring them back. However, Belfast earned a UFC event in 2016 despite Norman Parke not being present.
History suggests UFC Cardiff is Possible
The Welsh situation, however, is most similar to that of the Scots. The Scottish fighters have proven that a marquee hometown headliner isn’t always a necessity. When the UFC first arrived in Glasgow, Joanne Calderwood was the highest-profile Scottish fighter on the roster. She couldn’t even warrant a co-main event slot, and it’s obvious she didn’t bring the UFC there single-handedly.
Despite this, Calderwood, along with compatriots Robert Whiteford and Stevie Ray delivered. This resulted in the UFC’s return two years later. With the Hydro provisionally booked for this summer, Glasgow could host it’s third UFC event in five years.
With four solid, beloved Welsh fighters on the roster, there’s no reason why Wales shouldn’t hold it’s first UFC Cardiff.
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