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Dana White addresses future of UFC APEX cards, ‘f*cking masterpiece’ planned for Sphere

Las Vegas Shpere Photo by Kevin Carter/Getty Images

Dana White loves his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, but he’s hoping to spend less time there moving forward.

The success of UFC St. Louis, which produced the largest live gate for any UFC Fight Night card in history at more than $2.47 million, has White committed to taking more and more cards on the road in 2024 and beyond. Ever since the global pandemic, the UFC APEX has housed a huge number of shows, but even with crowds filling arenas all over the world again, UFC still regularly promotes events at its in-house arena in Las Vegas.

During a financial call with reporters this past week, TKO Group Holdings president Mark Shapiro acknowledged that the company wanted to take more cards on the road, but chief financial officer Andrew Schleimer cautioned that the UFC APEX presents “the lowest cost structure” possible for live events. Nonetheless, White wants to cut down on events held at the UFC APEX, but it remains to be seen if those cards will ever go away for good.

“I’ve been saying this for a long time — we’ve got to get out of the APEX and start doing more events in all these different cities,” White said at the UFC St. Louis post-fight press conference. “We’re starting to do it. We’re getting it done this year.”

The success in St. Louis was just further proof that the UFC should start traveling more often, even if the APEX provides an easy, no frills location with in-house production.

“As we start to get our shit together, I will call it, and start to move out and start to go to these different cities like we used to, the whole sport just goes to another level,” White said.

One event that’s going to be closer to home happens in September with UFC 306, which is scheduled for Sphere in Las Vegas.

A massive $2.3 billion structure, Sphere features more than 580,000 square feet of LED screens, and is set to host UFC’s new annual card during Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. White embarked on the idea to hold a UFC event there after attending a concert at Sphere following the opening in 2023.

Due to the extreme financial investment that’s going to be required to put on a UFC event at Sphere, White acknowledged it’s going to be the only time the promotion ever goes there, but it’s going to be a show no one ever forgets.

“I’m telling you guys right now, we literally just went through the storyboards two days ago on this thing — this is going to be the sickest live event in combat sports that anybody has ever seen and it will never be done again,” White teased. “This will be a one and done. Just because I want to do it. Everybody, when I said I wanted to do this, was like, ‘How? How are you going to do a fight in there? It’s too hard, it’s too this, it’s too that,’ and that’s the kind of stuff I love.

“We’ve already spent a shitload of money on this thing. Nobody will ever pull this off again because nobody would spend the money to do it. Nobody’s going to spend the money to do what I’m doing over there right now.”

White declined to reveal much about what’s going to set the card at Sphere apart versus any other UFC show, but he could barely contain himself when talking about it.

No fights have been announced yet for UFC 306, although it’s expected that flyweight champion Alexa Grasso defending her title against Valentina Shevchenko will land on the card in September.

“As it gets closer, I’ll lay this thing out for you guys. I’m telling you, it’s going to be so bad ass,” White said. “I’m super excited about it. Let me put it to you this way, when we were going through the storyboards, I was getting f*cking goosebumps. Imagine when it’s actually happening and wait until you see the people that I brought together to pull this thing off. As we get closer, I’ll let you guys know, but this is going to be something special.

“This is going to be a f*cking masterpiece. I’m telling you right now, and this will be a fact, this is a fact — this will never be done again.”

“You know what’s going to happen when I do this event at the Sphere? Every other event that goes in there is going to go, ‘Motherf*cker, what do we do now? How do we even come close to competing with this?’” White added.

“We’re going to f*cking blow the doors off anything that ever goes into that arena again. I f*cking guarantee it.”

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