December 13, 2014. That was the last time, Phoenix hosted a UFC match. Come the New Year 2017, UFC is all set to blaze Arizona, holding its first fight after nearly two years on January 15 at the Talking Stick Arena.
UFC Fight Night Card is the company’s first in Arizona since UFC on Fox 13 made starry headlines, which witnessed the heavyweight bout between Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic. This is the third straight time that the Fox Sports (FS1) will broadcast the UFC fight on an NFL Sunday playoff. Going by the last two records, UFC on January 15 is likely to draw the highest viewership in FS1’s history.
So far, three fights have been announced in Phoenix which includes a match between Cyril “Silverback” Asker pitted against Dmitry Smoliakov. Other two showdowns will witness Damien Grabowski versus Viktor Pesta and a lightweight bout between Joachim Christensen and Bojan Mihajlovic.
Coming to Phoenix after a shocking knockout by Jarred Cannonier, Silverback will still like to ride high on his five-straight wins. The loss at UFC Fight Night 86 in April should have healed by now, as Asker trains to tame equally “pained” Smoliakov, who also enjoyed an unbeaten track record before he lost to Luis Henrique in July 2016.
In the recent months before the decision to bring back UFC to Phoenix, the sport has witnessed major ups and downs.
In the first week of October, UFC middleweight champion Josh Samman perished due to a probable drug overdose in Florida, bringing all fighters under anti-drug inquiries. It is evident that the UFC promoters seemingly want to wipe the blame once for all.
Positive news came when Brett Johns was signed by the UFC in October, he became only the second Welshman to enter the league as an amateur fighter. For Johns, UFC is a “dream come true”, as he is set to debut in Belfast on November 19 at the UFC Fight Night 99.
Riding high on the 72% annual return, every year, UFC owners and promoters now identify Phoenix as the right “opportunity” for the business to showcase its talent.
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