SACRAMENTO, Calif. – While the WEC's first-ever pay-per-view event is the current focus for UFC president Dana White, the continued global expansion of the company's primary brand is always on his mind.
On Thursday, White confirmed that Salt Lake City will host UFC on Versus 2 on Aug. 1, but he also confirmed that the city originally expected to host that event, Oakland, Calif., still will get a visit from the UFC this year.
However, White seemed less optimistic that a long-rumored trip to Hawaii is in the promotion's immediate plans.
"We're going to Oakland," White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I don't remember if it's a (UFC) Fight Night (event) or a pay-per-view, but we're coming."
Following March's UFC on Versus 1, Versus president Jamie Davis announced that the cable television channel's next UFC broadcast would take place on Aug. 1 in Oakland. But the UFC instead elected to visit Salt Lake City on that date. The as-yet-unannounced UFC 117 event, expected to take place Aug. 7, could now wind up in Oakland, as MMAjunkie.com first reported.
White said despite the fact that MMA fans in Utah have long asked for the UFC to visit their home state, initial reports of the event were actually met with some resistance.
"Some people are sending some emails going, 'You guys are crazy going [to Salt Lake City] on a Sunday; it's a holy day,'" White said. "We're going there on a Sunday. We're going to Salt Lake City, Utah, and we're going to put on an event.
"I've had so many people from Utah saying, 'Come on; when are you bringing an event to Utah?' Now we're coming, and we've got people on the Internet saying, 'No, don't come here on a Sunday. It's a holy day.' Talk to God and let him give you the day off to come watch."
While the confirmation of future events in Oakland and Salt Lake City is certainly good news for fight fans in those locales, Hawaiian fans will undoubtedly be disappointed to hear that White still isn't sold on the possibility of a trip to the islands.
"I was looking at Hawaii the other day when we were lining up the events for the next year, and the problem with Hawaii is the arena," White said in reference to the state's lack of suitable venues.
Hawaii's Aloha Stadium was long considered the potential host site of the UFC's first-ever outdoor event, but that honor fell to UFC 112 at Concert Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, earlier this month. White admitted Hawaii's tropical climate is a major deterrent.
"I did that event outside in Abu Dhabi, but man, it scares me to do it in Hawaii outside," White said.
While Hawaii is home to the 10,000-seat Stan Sheriff Center and the near-9,000-seat Blaisdell Arena, White said those venues are unsuitable for a major pay-per-view event. The cost of bringing the UFC's operations to the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes a UFC Fight Night event there unlikely.
"I'd probably bring a Fight Night to a venue that small," White said. "That's one expensive Fight Night to go to Hawaii. That's the only problem. The problem is the arena."
Despite the obstacles that are in place for an event in the Aloha State, White said his visions of worldwide domination haven't diminished one bit.
"I literally want to do an event everywhere in this country where there's an athletic commission," White said. "Everywhere. I literally want to bring a live event not only to all these different cities in the U.S., but all over the world."