When COVID-19 hit the world hard and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) turned its production in-house, I was on board. Even as early options like Jacksonville, Fla., began to open up, I still preferred the visceral and real ambience and sounds of the UFC Apex. Justin Gaethje’s bludgeoning of Tony Ferguson opened a lot of eyes to just how real this fighting s—t is, and I appreciated it being conveyed appropriately.
Fast-forward a bit more than two years, and things have changed.
When every event was held at the UFC Apex, the quality rose and fell appropriately. Pay-per-view (PPV) events obviously reserved the most high-profile fights, while the “Fight Night” events received an even mix of the rest of the talent. That’s no longer the case, as UFC doesn’t really bother to build cards for its Apex events.
When the promotion holds a show at the UFC Apex nowadays, the ESPN contract guarantees a profit, and ticket sales are still a non-factor. There’s just no reason for the promotion to go above and beyond in Las Vegas.
Cards like UFC Paris make it apparent. When UFC actually tries to build a fun card that will entertain a crowd, the night is so much better. The card was rightly filled with local talent, who were more than motivated to put on for their country. French athletes went 5-0 on the night, and the crowd inside Accor Arena grew more and more wild with each win. By the time Ciryl Gane made the walk, the place was electric — let alone when he actually won!
All that made for a better viewing experience through the tube as well. Even outside of the local talent, UFC tacked on an excellent co-main event of Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori, a fight that could have easily been assigned main event of a future Apex card. When UFC ventures out, especially to another country, the events are simply better, because it feels like care is involved.
Even in the current cost-cutting era, it’s worth venturing out when it clearly makes the product better for everyone.
For complete UFC Paris: “Gane vs. Tuivasa” results and play-by-play, click HERE.