Why Does the UFC Still Use the Apex So Much and What Can We Expect in the Future?

Why Does the UFC Still Use the Apex So Much and What Can We Expect in the Future?

The UFC Apex was officially opened on 18 June 2019. Following the introduction of Covid restrictions in 2020, the UFC started to use the Apex to host its events.

Covid restrictions have been lifted for some time, but the UFC continues to hold fight cards in the Apex. I can’t think of another major sporting organisation that has yet to return to its pre-Covid arrangements for hosting events.

In 2019, the UFC held 42 arena events across 38 cities and 15 countries. In 2023, there were 26 arena events across 21 cities and 8 countries. There were 17 Apex fight cards in 2023, which accounted for 40% of all events held that year.

Continuing to host a large number of events in the Apex is a constant source of annoyance for many fans. It is obviously a much better experience to watch any sporting event on television when there is a large and passionate crowd. MMA is no different in this regard. Crowds add energy and excitement, and create an emotional connection between fans and fighters. The emotional investment of the crowd intensifies the drama and significance of any fight, and increases the impact of key moments. Think back to the most memorable UFC fights and fight cards over the last 12 months. How many of these were in the Apex?

Reducing the number of arena shows and event locations also restricts the number of fans that are able to experience a live UFC event in person. As with any sport, watching MMA live in a packed arena is so much better than watching it on TV. Increasing the number of arena shows and event locations would help to grow the popularity of the UFC.

Why Does the UFC Still Use the Apex So Much?

Reasons for the UFC’s continued use of the Apex may include:


Hosting events at the Apex is more cost-effective than renting larger venues. The reduced capacity and specialised facilities also lead to lower operational costs, making it a financially attractive option.


Using the Apex is an easy and convenient option for the UFC, whose headquarters are across the road. Logistically, it is so much easier to organise an event at the Apex than at an arena in another city or country. When Dana White and the other decision makers are busy working on big arena events, the temptation must always be there to put other fight cards on at the Apex. It is an ever-present and much too easy fallback option.


The Apex provides flexibility in scheduling events, as it is always available. This allows the UFC to organise events more quickly and efficiently, which is why it has been used as a short notice back-up for cancelled arena events, e.g. Shanghai on 9 December 2023 and Saudi Arabia on 2 March 2024.

Expanded Roster

With an expanded roster, the UFC needs to schedule fights for an increasing number of lesser known and up-and-coming fighters. Events containing a number of these fights may struggle to appeal to an arena audience. Putting this type of fight card on at the Apex gets around this problem.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

Due to the above factors, the UFC will almost certainly continue to use the Apex to host Fight Night events. The realistic question is not, “Will they continue to use the Apex?”, but “How many events are they likely to hold there?”

The data of UFC events below shows the number being held at the Apex is reducing. Correspondingly, there has been an expansion of arena events and the number of cities and countries holding them. Dana White has said a number of times that he wants to hold events in a greater number of locations. Hopefully then, this trend will continue, although we cannot know for sure and we cannot know to what extent.

Apex events021312117
Arena events4220122126
Apex %0%51%72%50%40%

However, the start of 2024 has seen a larger than expected number of events being held at the Apex. The UFC’s schedule from the start of the year up to and including UFC 300 on 13 April 2024, comprises 13 events, of which seven (or 54%) have been or are to be held at the Apex and only six at arenas. I can only assume that this is due to the UFC management team focusing on UFC 300.

Our best hope for a significant reduction in Apex events lies with the UFC’s broadcasting deal. Their current deal with ESPN ends in 2025. Surely, ESPN and other prospective broadcasting partners would prefer to show arena events. They may be prepared to pay more for a guaranteed minimum number of arena events or less without one. As the UFC is a business that seeks to maximise its profits, this could provide some much needed leverage.

Broadcasters, do the right thing, we’re relying on you.

If you're feeling generous:
Mark Lawson avatar