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UFC won’t return to Columbus in 2010

September 21, 2009

Despite three consecutive shows that scored some of the biggest crowds in the promotion’s history, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will not return to Columbus for a fourth show in 2010.

Beginning in 2007, the UFC hosted an annual pay-per-view event at Nationwide Arena in conjunction with the Arnold Sports Festival, a popular three-day sports and fitness exhibition.

However, at a press conference for this weekend’s UFC 103 event, UFC president Dana White said a fourth show isn’t on the calendar for 2010.

The news should come as a surprise to Ohio MMA fans, especially since White vowed to return.

“We love Columbus,” White said during Columbus’ festivities for UFC 96 in March. “Every year we’ve been here, we’ve been successful. We plan to keep going back every year and making this a regular thing.”

However, the UFC’s plans to tap into new markets has apparently forced the change.

The UFC made its Ohio (and Midwest) debut in 2007 with UFC 68, which featured Randy Couture’s upset of Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title. The event set a still-standing U.S. MMA attendance record (19,049) and shattered the Nationwide Arena record with a $3 million gate. The following year, the UFC returned to Columbus for UFC 82 (headlined by Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson), which drew 16,043 for a $2.2 million gate. And this year, UFC 96, headlined by Quinton Jackson vs. Keith Jardine, drew another 17,033 attendees for a $1.8 million gate.

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