UFC President Dana White Declares Salt Lake City A ‘Destination’ City Ahead Of UFC 278
SALT LAKE CITY – Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White said he expects the state of Utah to continue a streak of 17 consecutive sellouts for the promotion when UFC 278 comes to Vivint Arena on August 20.
“Any of you who know anything about how I operate know I like destinations. I like places where people want to travel. Much like the UFC, this place (Salt Lake City) is on fire right now, continuing to grow, booming, and becoming one of the global destinations in the world.”
Ryan Smith, chairman of the Smith Entertainment Group and owner of the Utah Jazz, echoed, White’s sentiments
“Something’s changed where Salt Lake is not a flyover city and Utah is not a flyover state. I think that’s manifesting through concert tours, it’s manifesting through events like this, and it’s becoming a destination.”
White doubled down on his comments later, showing his knowledge of the state and its people’s perception of their home turf.
“I know you guys have this chip on your shoulder because you think that this place hasn’t arrived, yet you’ve arrived. Believe me, Salt Lake City has arrived,” White stated “This is a destination. It’s a place where you can come and stay in great hotels eat in great restaurants and shop. When people come in for a fight weekend. It’s all about what’s going on, how’s the atmosphere and the buzz and the energy of the UFC Fight Night starting on either Thursday or Friday night is awesome. There’s nothing like it, and our people are gonna come in from all over the world. We’re gonna take over the town.”
White, who said he arrived in Salt Lake City just minutes before Tuesday’s press conference, said he was impressed by Vivint Arena, despite his only having seen a small portion of the venue.
“I’ve been to arenas all over the world. This is one of the nicest arenas I’ve been to,” White said. “I can’t wait to see the rest of it. I can’t wait for our fans to come out and see (this place).”
UFC 278 will be headlined with the main card of Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman against Leon “Rocky” Edwards. Usman will look to defend his welterweight title against Edwards.
Usman and Edwards previously fought in 2015. Usman won the first bout by unanimous decision.
— UFC (@ufc) June 12, 2022
No. 1 men’s pound-for-pound fighter Usman (20-1), a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 21, has scored victories over Colby Covington (twice), Jorge Masvidal (twice) and Gilbert Burns. Usman now aims to secure his sixth straight title defense against Edwards. He last fought last November and has been recovering from a broken hand.
Edwards (19-3 1NC) is riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak since his first encounter with Usman in late 2015. He has secured victories against Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos and Vicente Luque along the way to earn his first UFC title opportunity. His last bout was in June 2021.
Smith, who is the chairman of the Smith Entertainment Group that runs Vivint Arena, said that bringing UFC 278 to Utah was validation of the rising stature of the Beehive State.
“I think that it’s just the beginning,” Smith said. “I think that it shows you the growth in Utah and everything that everyone’s been working for, for so long. And so this is just one moment in time that we’re going to see that pay off. You’ll start to see more and more and more. We’re just happy to be a part of it.”
UFC 278 will be the second time that Salt Lake City has hosted a UFC event. The first was a UFC Fight Night, featuring Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres in August 2016. It will be Salt Lake City’s first-ever pay-per-view card event.
Fights are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. (MDT) on August 20 at Vivint Arena.
Tickets for UFC 278 will go on sale this Friday, June 24 at 10 a.m. (MDT) and can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com
Featured Undercard Bouts
Other featured fights that are scheduled include:
Former UFC featherweight champion and current No. 3 ranked bantamweight contender Jose Aldo (31-7) takes on No. 6 Merab Dvalishvili (14-4)
No. 4 ranked flyweight contender Paulo Costa (13-2) takes on former champion Luke Rockhold (16-5)
No. 13 ranked flyweight Amir Albazi (14-1) will square off against Francisco Figueiredo (13-4-1 1NC)
No. 10 ranked heavyweight Marcin Tybura (22-7) will take on will face undefeated No. 13 Alexandr Romanov (18-0)
White mentioned that the card will be filled out more fully as the event draws closer and added that he would expect to see fighters from Utah or those with connections to the state to be on the card.