Aside from the occasional trip to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, it’s been a long time since the UFC has hosted an event overseas, and even longer since they’ve been in the UK, but that’s about to change with the promotion having now officially announced that they are heading to the O2 Arena in London, England on March 19th.
The event, believed to be UFC Fight Night 204, doesn’t have too many bouts attached to it so far, though rising English heavyweight fighter Tom Aspinall will be looking for his fifth win in a row inside the Octagon when he takes on Shamil Abdurakhimov.
The last UFC event in the UK was back in March of 2019 and it’s a show that everyone is likely to remember as it was a major night in the history of Jorge Masvidal’s rise to stardom after he KO’d Darren Till in devastating fashion and then slapped Leon Edwards backstage after the Brit mouthed off at him during a live post-fight interview.
“Every time we put on an event in London, it’s an unbelievable experience,” UFC president Dana White stated in an official press release for the March 19th event. “The fans are incredible, and the fights are always off the charts. It’s a different kind of energy in England, and I can’t wait to get back there with a fight card on March 19.”
White had hinted recently that the UFC might finally start to branch out further again in 2022 after a couple of years during which Covid restrictions had hindered their travel plans.
“I feel like a lot of this silliness is starting to go away, I think common sense is starting to prevail finally, and I’m hoping that this year we’re gonna come to the U.K.,” White told BT Sport. “We are gonna go to other cities we haven’t been to in a long time. Hopefully [there’s] more out of the country events, so I’m hoping that ‘22 is gonna be the year. I’m feeling it.”
The UFC’s announcement comes on a day when the English government announced that Covid rules will be eased in the country late next week, with mandatory face masks indoors and Covid passports for large-scale events being dropped as a result of scientific data suggesting that the current wave of Omicron had now passed its peak.