For the first time in the history of the UFC, they are pulling up and moving a show from one city to another. The reason: poor ticket sales. The cities involved: Salt Lake City, poised to host its first UFC event, did not sell enough tickets, and now the event (UFC on Versus II) will be hosted in San Diego. San Diego, a long-time MMA hotbed, is expected to have no problems selling tickets.
Read the details of the press release here. What no one is saying, so far at least, is whether or not religion has anything to do with the poor ticket sales. Interestingly, UFC President Dana White defended the original choice of Salt Lake City based on excellent TV ratings in that market. But for some reason, that normally reliable indicator did not translate into ticket sales.
I can only wonder, is this because of the heavily Mormon population of Utah? Granted, I don’t know of any specific rules against viewing fight sports in the LDS community, but there may be other issues. Bud Light has become a prominent sponsor of the UFC recently, and we all know that alcohol is verboten in Mormon life. My own suspicion is that many Mormons, whose church cultivates (and, to their credit, practices) an image of squeaky clean, moral families, were simply afraid to attend. It’s one thing to watch cagefighting in the privacy of your own home; it’s another to go out with all those beer-drinking, TAPOUT-wearing neanderthals and actually place butt to seat.
In short, my thought is that however fond many Mormon men are of Mixed Martial Arts, the sport itself (thanks to bloodshed, ring girls, beer sponsors, and tattoos) still has too much stigma attached to it for a tight-knit, tea-totaling community like Salt Lake City. If anyone has a better idea, I’d love to hear it. And for the record, I have beloved family members who are Mormons, and I have no ill will against the LDS Church. I’m simply reflecting on what seems to be a logical scenario. Thoughts?
EDIT: It also just occurred to me that this event was scheduled for a Sunday. Really, UFC? Does no one in your planning office know a thing about religious practices in Utah?