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UFC claims first with Vegas arena deal

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has claimed an industry first with a multi-year agreement that names the mixed martial arts organisation as an anchor tenant of the T-Mobile Arena in the US city of Las Vegas.

The UFC said the deal signed with the venue’s owner, Las Vegas Arena Company – an entity majority owned by AEG and MGM Resorts International – marks the first time that a global sports brand, other than a professional franchise, has been named as an anchor tenant for a sports and entertainment venue.

Terms of the partnership, which also establishes T-Mobile Arena as UFC’s exclusive Las Vegas arena destination, were not disclosed but the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper said it will extend for more than seven years.

T-Mobile Arena opened on April 6, 2016 and has already hosted four of UFC’s most successful events including UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes, UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2 and UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey. The deal was signed on Friday ahead of the arena’s staging of UFC 209, which saw Tyron Woodley (pictured) outpoint Stephen Thompson to retain his welterweight title on Saturday.

UFC senior vice-president of event development and operations, Peter Dropick, said: “In less than one year, we have set multiple records in the T-Mobile Arena and we look forward to continuing to work with our long-standing partners, both world leaders in the arena and entertainment sectors, to elevate and showcase the best of our brand.”

The comprehensive agreement calls for UFC to host a minimum of four events annually. UFC will have priority scheduling for designated major events windows, such as International Fight Week, and will have a presence at T-Mobile Arena – headlining the welcome sign in the lobby alongside the Vegas Golden Knights, as well as concourse activations, signage and retail space.

The Golden Knights will serve as the arena’s other anchor tenant as it prepares to enter the NHL in 2017-18 as an expansion franchise in the ice hockey league. Before the opening of T-Mobile Arena, the UFC staged most of its major Las Vegas events at MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts International, said: “We have enjoyed a tremendous partnership with UFC for many years and are excited to enter into this exclusive agreement at T-Mobile Arena, a first for the industry. While UFC calls Las Vegas home, there are few brands as powerful globally. We look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world for years to come for the kind of spectacular events and entertainment that can only be found in this city.”