The southeastern United States offers many great attractions for tourists. There’s Nashville, Tenn., which is growing very steadily in popularity. There are the white sandy beaches in the “Sunshine State.” As for sports, you won’t find better football games than in the Southeastern Conference, and if you like racing, you can catch the Kentucky Derby or head to Daytona in February. The Southeast certainly has plenty to offer, but there is one thing that it is missing.

What’s that, you ask? Well, while the area offers a number of places to go and things to see, one downside is the lack of UFC events throughout the year.

Having lived in the region my entire life, I’m all too familiar with this issue. Throughout 2013 and into the beginning of 2014, the UFC held just two events in the portion of the United States south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River. However, one of the events, which took place in Fort Campbell, Ky., was a Fight for the Troops card where everyday fight fans weren’t able to attend. So, if you were a civilian living in the southeast and wanted to attend an event without emptying your bank account, your opportunity came on Jan. 15 in Duluth, Ga., at UFC Fight Night 35.

Prior to that show, the last UFC event open to the general public was UFC on FX 3 on June 8, 2012 in Sunrise, Fla. UFC on Fuel TV 3 in Fairfax, Va., came less than a month earlier and UFC 145, which featured Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title, in Atlanta a few weeks before that. The trip to Atlanta was the first time since Dec. 12, 2009 at UFC 107 in Memphis, Tenn., that a title bout took place in the region.

The point isn’t to convince the UFC to return to the area with a big event. It strictly goes to prove that the Southeast is one of the weakest markets for the promotion. Case in point: With the exception of UFC 107 and UFC 145, which were big pay-per-view events that each drew over 13,000 people, the attendance numbers for Fight Night shows in the Southeast have been quite low.

I attended UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller in Nashville in 2012 and was given a ticket upgrade so they could fill the lower level for the broadcast aired across the country. The event ended up having an attendance of just over 7,000, not nearly enough to fill up Bridgestone Arena’s capacity of 20,000. This month, only 5,822 seats were filled at the Gwinnett Center for UFC Fight Night 35. That venue is capable of holding 13,000 fans. By now, the trend is obvious. Compared to events in other areas, the turnout in the Southeast just doesn’t stack up.

Is it the ticket prices? Doubtful, with the cost being pretty reasonable with it not being a pay-per-view.

Is it the fact that nobody wants to go out of their way to see two middleweights who were coming off losses? Maybe, but perhaps the answer really lies elsewhere. Perhaps it’s the sheer fact that people in the area aren’t exposed to the sport enough and therefore lack the desire to attend fights. Heck, even the two guys who were sitting in front of me with pretty expensive seats were picking who would win a fight based on the color of the fighters’ shorts—”Yeah, I got purple winning.”

Luckily, people living in the region who count themselves as fans of mixed martial arts do get a chance to watch fights regularly, even if those fights happen in places other than the Octagon. Of course, there are always local bouts going on, but there’s also Bellator and the World Series of Fighting. The rival promotions both make trips into Florida. Furthermore, the Southeast has its own regional promotion with ambitions for continued growth in the form of the XFC.

As for the UFC coming to town, you’re going to have to do some traveling for that. Honestly, though, it’s hard to blame the UFC for not coming to the region more than it does.

Do I wish they would? Well, of course, but the promotion realizes that it can hit up the West Coast or Las Vegas and take in more profit. It’s also moving forward with the continued plans to travel to even more countries, along with maintaining its schedule of regular trips to Canada and Brazil, all of which are more profitable venues than any location in the Southeast.

The UFC is going where it knows it can take in the most money. It doesn’t see the Southeast as an attractive destination in that regard, and therefore the future of UFC events in the region is not going to change.

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.