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Poor Ticket Sales Force ‘UFC on Versus 2′ Out of Salt Lake City

"Some people are sending [us] emails going, ‘You guys are crazy going [to Salt Lake City] on a Sunday; it’s a holy day’…We’re going there on a Sunday. We’re going to Salt Lake City, Utah, and we’re going to put on an event…Talk to God and let him give you the day off to come watch." — Dana White, 4/22/10

Well, God has spoken, and he says "no dice." Due to sluggish ticket sales, the UFC on Versus 2 event scheduled for August 1st at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City has been canceled, and will instead be held at the San Diego Sports Arena. Said Dana: "Our television ratings in Salt Lake City have always been strong. When we finally found the opportunity to bring a UFC event there with a great card, I was very surprised and disappointed in ticket sales."

Fans who purchased tickets to the Salt Lake City event will receive a full refund, and tickets to the show at the San Diego venue go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m. According to DW, it’s the first time in the company’s history that a venue has been changed after tickets already went on sale; UFC 12 comes to mind as an exception, but still, this is basically unprecedented. So what does it mean?

In the wake of secondary-market ticket struggles in Vancouver (oh, those poor scalpers!), Michael David Smith at points to the Salt Lake City situation as a sign that the UFC’s period of exponential growth has officially come to an end. While that may be true in general, I don’t think you can draw that conclusion just from a weak showing at UFC 115 — which featured a makeshift main event that didn’t capture fans’ imaginations, in a city that didn’t roll out the red carpet — and poor ticket sales for a Sunday night show in SLC. Keep in mind that Utah is the most devoutly religious state in the union. It’s not that Utah residents aren’t interested in MMA; MMA Weekly points out that a recent show in Orem headlined by Josh Burkman drew 8,000 fans on a Friday night. It’s just that they can’t make it out on the Lord’s Day.

Planning a Sunday night show in Utah is a lot like planning a second event in Germany after the UFC was banned from television, or even going to Vancouver to begin with, with its openly hostile athletic commission: It’s the UFC trying to force their brand into a market despite obvious roadblocks. Of course, no progress comes easily, and backlash in certain areas is to be expected. But political groundwork needs to be laid before you show up in a city that doesn’t really want you there.

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ghostboner- June 17, 2010 at 12:21 am
@See Sills Phew Pills - What's the U there? Weber state? I will have to check the critter factor next time I am in the neighborhood. But damn good call on the Asstro Burgur. I used to work right off 3300S but we would still roll down there for lunch.
dranokills- June 16, 2010 at 9:55 am
Fedor Penn Says:
Tue, 06/15/2010 - 20:20

Wasn't Dana just talking shit about Fedor Vs. Werdum having trouble selling tickets? Maybe he should try shutting the fuck up and worrying about his own company.
now now lets not get stupid. I was with you up to "shutting the fuck up".
But homey worrying about his company is not a problem UFC didn't crash and burn cause of this, they are still topermost uppermost baddest motherfuckers when it comes to which company rules.
they could NOT sell another ticket this year and still kick the combines asses of all the other pre-school companys out there.
cecils_pupils- June 16, 2010 at 9:30 am
@caspers erection... yup, Ogden... was workin' at the university there so at least I saw the best selection of arse in the area. Never made it to the Happy Valley area though... since I escaped back to SoCal I am admittedly spoiled since all the chicks here try to be Victoria's Secret models.

The one thing I do miss from Utah: Astro Burger in Murray. Best bacon cheeseburger you will ever eat... ever.
noahknows- June 16, 2010 at 7:29 am
its a good card, i just cant see paying HD price for this card, i only see two possible fights worth any money, JJ(jon jones) and Brian stan, the rest are fun just not real exciting
disastras- June 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm
Ballohate knows the Utah MMA scene without a doubt. I have been to many fights that Johhny "ballohate" Riche helped organize. He also used to fight. He would know the pitfalls of a Sunday card if anyone would.

I'll add to what ballohate said and throw my hat into the mix; being a enthusiastic MMA fan and a Utahn. Utahns tend to be notoriously cheap, especially Utah Mormons. It was hard to justify a UFC pricetag when we get several GREAT local shows a year.

I have loved MMA for years, but I'm having a hard time being enthusiastic about the card. I'll absolutely watch it on Versus, but seeing it live wasn't really appealing. It's lacking "star" power. There are undoubtedly some great fighters on this card, but it reminds me of when Jeremy Horn first came to Utah, and I was first getting into MMA. He put on a show that Matt Hughes was reffing and I knew I had to be there just to meet Horn and Hughes. Casual fans wouldn't know anyone on the card and therefore wouldn't be interested. I would bet it is more about "star" power and less about the Mormon issue.

Jones MAY have an awesome future, but Matyushenko isn't a UFC main event in my world.
ghostboner- June 15, 2010 at 11:24 pm
@cecil's poo pills - Ogden??? I mean Murray is no picnic, practically Wyoming, but Ogden? Seriously??? I am SO surprised that you didn't see any attractive crack whores up there in the festering anus of Utah. Just flabbergasted. Next you're gonna tell me you didn't see any hot ones in West Valley... Take your own advice and hang near the Universities down in Happy Valley. There are plenty of hot ones, and a dirty lake near by to hide the bodies.

@Barc - Riven Academy = best gym eva. I Just got home from there. Love it.

@ballohate - Got to agree with you on that one mate. And you didn't even mention that the folks around here are notoriously thrifty, which I also think contributed to the slow sales. No scientific data to back it up, but I'm sure it came into play somehow.
cecils_pupils- June 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm
@omunto you should spend more time near the Universities instead of the military base and you'll see more 10's. 6's n 7's that think they are 10's? Sounds like you are talkin' about Pacific Beach.
Barc- June 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm
Why Johnny Richie, I didn't know you were a fellow potato!

Agreed. I used to make the trek up to SLC for UCE almost religiously... woops, sorry. Anwho, I even got called to fight one night, but then my buddy got the call for the same night for a bigger fight. I cornered him and sat out on the card, then Jeremy Horn moved in and took over the show. I went to those cards, and eventually ended up nosing myself into a security gig with him. Then, Throwdown came to town and started putting shows less than a mile down the road. I've been to every one. They got bought out by some dudes that renamed their gym The Academy, and call themselves Showdown Fights. The last card was definitely the best one I've seen in Utah to date, and it was a pretty packed house down there at Utah Valley University. Put the show on a Saturday night and give us a PPV card, and watch it sell out. Maybe not quite 'til the day of the fight, though, like BalloHate said. We don't do a damn thing around here until it absolutely needs done (except buy UFC on Versus 2 tickets during the newsletter presale... damn it!)
denver_rolling- June 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm
Just bring Jon Jones back to CO, Dana!
ballohate- June 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm
I have been in the MMA businesss here in SLC for 10 years, I have had fighters like Josh Burkman, Damarques Johnson and current TUF finalist Court McGee fight in the shows I promoted and can tell you that doing a event on Sunday was a tough sell from the beginning.

I host a action sports and combat radio show "Rockwell Action Sports Report" on 1320 KFAN (home of the Utah Jazz) and the UFC just became a HUGE sponsor of the show and one of our recent discussions was "would the UFC sell out here in Utah on a Sunday"....and the overwelming response from or audience was "Maybe". In addition to being on the lords day people in Utah wait until the very last minute to purchase tickets to events (unless its a Miley Cirus Concert) and especially MMA.

In the past there has been a 60% walk up purchase rate at large MMA events that have been my organization is in no way a comparison to the UFC but still facts are facts. People slack when it comes to buying tickets early.

In addition there is a huge holiday the week before the fights and being a state that prides itself on out door activities many people save up to go camping, boating and fishing on the weekend of the 24th of July. This may have little to do with the overall early sales being slow but I imagine it plays a factor.

Anyway I sure hope Dana decides to do an event in SLC in the future, trust me Utah has rabid MMA fans. Just watch and see how many Mormon wagons are in Vegas for the TUF finale featuring Utah fighter Court McGee!!!
ashtonwaynerodgers- June 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm
Have an event in the midwest thats got a champion or bones jones.
LSpyker- June 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm
@ almost north

The fans are always so angry at Jazz games because the Jazz are the only pro team they have.

Plus the Jazz suck
omunto- June 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm
@ cecils_pupils

The comment about the women. Lies... All we have here are 6-7's who THINK they are 10's due to all the military douche bags that hit on every piggly wiggly that they come across. I love SD but its a fucking brofest here...
tallkitchenbags- June 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm
mormonism is retarded (as are all organized religions), but i could get behind polygamy.
cecils_pupils- June 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm
While I respect you Utah folks, I have lived in Salt Lake (Murray) and Ogden as well as Los Angeles, Orange County, and even NorCal. I have also traveled all over the southwest and western region and, sorry guys, but the ladies in Utah are NOT that hot in comparison.

Come to San Diego, gentlemen, and you will see the true definition of the most beautiful women in the Union.
ghostboner- June 15, 2010 at 11:47 am
@ksgbobo - You are correct sir.

This was a combination of a card without a lot of drawing power and a bad call on the Sunday idea. Utah has a HUGE mma scene, and contrary to what Almost North would say, some of the best beer ever.. Squatters IPA is the nectar of the gods. You can blame it on Mormons all you want(who are barely the majority anymore), but reschedule it for a Friday night, with a main event that is slightly more compelling, and I think ticket sales will pick up rapidly.
That said, I'm sorry Goldstein, but it looks like I will be retracting my offer to be your personal Ariel Helwani, getting you exclusive interviews and live inside insights at said event. Next time UFC is in Salt Lake I will be on it.
ksgbobo- June 15, 2010 at 11:31 am
I'm throwing this out there, which will resolve all issues...

Utah has the most beautiful women in the Union
philoebeddoe- June 15, 2010 at 11:04 am
No dice! This ain't ova!
Almost North- June 15, 2010 at 10:44 am
@Fedor Penn

"Maybe he should try shutting the fuck up" I think that is sound advice for a lot of us. Nobody is going to take it though.


I'm convinced that beer is why everyone in the crowd is so goddamn angry at Jazz games. I was looking forward to this card because of the inevitable racial slurs and ice cup throwing from the audience and now its just going to be a bunch of stoned San Diegans (San Diegons? San Diegonites? San Diegonians? Shamalama Ding Dong?) who will miss half the fights when they get lost looking for the nacho guy in the bathroom.
omunto- June 15, 2010 at 10:42 am
F yeah I live like a mile away from Sports Arena. I'm glad there are no major draws and its not a PPV because it might be affordable then! It's not like a good fight needs a star participating in it, just a good matchup.
Crusader86- June 15, 2010 at 10:23 am
@Almost North

Hey! You leave our shitty beer out of this...

Fedor Penn- June 15, 2010 at 10:20 am
Wasn't Dana just talking shit about Fedor Vs. Werdum having trouble selling tickets? Maybe he should try shutting the fuck up and worrying about his own company.
Almost North- June 15, 2010 at 10:08 am
@ KarmaAteMyCat

Does he float?


Not as weak as the beer in Salt Lake.

If you all keep talking shit about Mormons you are getting banned from Applebees. Better watch out.
KarmaAteMyCat- June 15, 2010 at 10:03 am
No you fucked up and live in the wrong city. Dana white doesn't fuck up sir! YOU ARE SPEAKING BLASPHEMY! BURN HIM!!! CRUCIFY HIM! SINNER! PAGAN WITCH!
finn- June 15, 2010 at 9:56 am
I live in Salt Lake and was looking forward to seeing the show. Don't be fooled, Salt Lake isn't as religious as people want to believe, and Sunday night events sell out here all the time. The show was pulled for weak ticket sales? The event is still six fucking weeks down the road, give it time, maybe promote it a little? Unless you're an MMA scholar you're not going to know who most of the fighters are on the card anyway. It's the card, not the night. Salt Lake is a big MMA city. Dana, you fucked up and ejected too early.