UFC’s Return to Atlantic City Needs New Main Event

February 3, 2024
4 weeks

The UFC has a long history with Atlantic City. When the UFC struggled to host events while struggling for legitimacy, then hotel owner Donald Trump allowed the UFC to hold events at his venues in the city. While the UFC has since grown into a large global brand, UFC CEO Dana White has a soft spot for the resort town.

White’s plan to have welterweight contenders Sean Brady and Vicente Luque headline the March 30th event has fallen through. While White made a big deal to announce the fight, the deal hadn’t been signed yet. Despite heavy negotiations, White couldn’t get the two men to agree on the location and payout.

Now, the UFC will have to find another main event to help draw spectators to the historic Boardwalk Hall. A potential contender is already on the card if they can’t get two other fighters to agree. But the UFC will want to investigate all options.

Following the pandemic, many organizations were able to become more flexible. The UFC has been more creative in how it puts together fights and will attempt to find another headliner that will please most of the people in attendance.

Why was Brady-Luque Canceled?

It was never officially on in the first place. MMA news sites have been reporting that Brady didn’t sign the contract for the fight because he has been dealing with an injury. Brady has only taken two fights since November 2021.

Brady suffered his first professional loss when Belal Muhammad knocked him out at UFC 280 in October 2022. He returned in December 2023 and picked up an impressive submission win over former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum. Luque hasn’t been the most active fighter either.

Luque returned to fight former champion Rafael dos Anjos in August 2023. It would be his only fight in 2023. Luque ended up grinding out a five-round decision to halt a two-fight losing streak.

Weird Week for Cancellations

The Brady-Luque news came around the same time as former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier declared his fight with Benoît Saint Denis was off. But then, Poirier quickly changed the news and said the fight was back on.

Poirier and Saint Denis are set to fight at UFC 299. While Poirier claims that he announced the news because he couldn’t get a hold of his manager, there were some weird rumors swirling about the bout. For now, Saint Denis and Poirier are set for an action-packed meeting.

But there’s always a chance for more zaniness. Bouts frequently change due to injuries and other factors after being announced.

Blanchfield Could Be Ready for Top Billing

This may be an opportunity for the UFC to test Erin Blanchfield’s drawing power. Blanchfield was originally slated for the co-main event in a women’s flyweight title eliminator with Manon Fiorot. Bumping Blanchfield to the main event would make it a first for several reasons.

First off, she is the No. 2 ranked flyweight contender and has picked up nine straight wins. Secondly, Blanchfield is a New Jersey native. Having Blanchfield fighting in front of a partisan crowd would provide a nice atmosphere inside the arena. Blanchfield has picked up several high-quality finishes in the UFC and has the skills to put nearly anyone away.

Blanchfield’s opponent, Manon Fiorot, is the No. 3 contender. Fiorot is a powerful puncher who will test Blanchfield, known for her strong wrestling skills. Both Blanchfield and Fiorot have wins over former champions under their belts.

Blanchfield beat Jessica Andrade, while Fiorot picked up a decision victory over Rose Namajunas. This fight is one that could provide an exciting substitute if no one else steps forward.

Former Champion Could Use Big Stage on Way Out

Chris Weidman should retire. There are few things tougher to watch in combat sports than a fighter who hangs on past his expiration date. Weidman, a former middleweight champion, is in line to fight Bruno Silva.

Weidman is best known for stopping Anderson Silva’s long title reign during a pair of title fights in the mid-2010s. But since Weidman defended his title for the second time against Vitor Belfort at UFC 187, things have gone south. Weidman lost the title in a surprising KO loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194.

Weidman has lost seven of his last nine fights since the win over Belfort. The most difficult to watch was a TKO loss by leg injury to Uriah Hall at UFC 261 in April 2021. Weidman’s leg was broken when Hall checked a leg kick. Neither man threw a punch in that fight, and Weidman suffered a horrifying injury.

Weidman returned at UFC 292 to fight Brad Tavares after two years off. Weidman turned in a respectable performance but ultimately lost a fairly lopsided decision. Moving Weidman to the main event for what could be his last fight as a pro would be a nice nod to the former champion, according to MMA news websites.

Rest of Card is Filled with Prospects and Newcomers

Of the other four fights that have been announced for UFC Fight Night 241, none of the other matchups are main-event worthy. A light heavyweight bout between Alonzo Menifeld and Carlos Ulberg could be exciting, but they aren’t two names that will lure in casual viewers.

White will have a big challenge ahead of him to fill out the card. Atlantic City has been waiting for the return of UFC for nearly six years, according to MMA breaking news. For a city and venue that has so much history with the sport, they will be hoping to get another fight that is worthy of being at the top of the marquee.

Here are the other known fights for the event as of now:

  • Light heavyweight: Ibo Aslan vs. Anton Turkalj
  • Bantamweight: Angel Pacheco vs. Caolan Loughran
  • Welterweight: Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee

Find all the latest boxing news and MMA breaking updates on boxingnews.com.

By Dean McHugh