Every July for the last six years, the UFC has taken over the glimmering combat sports Mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada with its International Fight Week. This action-packed week, which is consistently crammed to capacity with fan events and multiple fight cards, has become the busiest and biggest stretch on the UFC’s annual calendar. This year figures to be no different.
On Wednesday afternoon, MMAJunkie.com reported that the promotion has requested permits to book Las Vegas’ new T-Mobile Arena for three consecutive early July evenings, right in the middle of its International Fight Week celebrations. The nights the promotion is gunning for are July 6th, 7th and 8th.
At the moment, the details are hazy but we do have some information on this trio of fight cards.
The first of these events, which will occur on the 6th, is likely to be a Fight Night card. It is expected to air on Fox Sports 1.
The second of these events, which is expected to occur on the 7th, will be the finale of The Ultimate Fighter season 25, per MMAJunkie.com. This season, which just recently finished filming, will see reigning bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt and former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw serve as rival coaches. In the past, TUF coaches have often fought on the finales of the seasons they coached. It is not yet known whether Garbrandt and Dillashaw will battle for bantamweight gold on this July 7th TUF Finale, but given that it will occur during International Fight Week, the chances seem quite high.
The final of the three fight cards in this trio, scheduled for July 8th, is expected to be a pay-per-view titled UFC 213. This event will likely serve as the climax of the entire week, just as the landmark UFC 200 did last year, and the stacked UFC 189 did the year before that.
Just like these previous Fight Week pay-per-views, we can expect the UFC 213 bill to be packed to capacity with many of the UFC’s biggest stars. Precedent also suggests the card could well include more than one title fight. Though it is far from a done deal just yet, it is possible that one of these title fights could be Michael Bisping’s controversial middleweight title defense against returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Though St-Pierre has repeatedly stated he’d like his comeback fight with Bisping to occur in the fall, UFC President Dana White has suggested he’d like to make the fight happen in July. July’s Fight-Week-ending UFC 213 card, then, seems like a likely setting for this super fight.
This will not be the first time the UFC has promoted three events in as many nights. The organization also did so during last year’s International Fight week, promoting a Fight Night card headlined by a lightweight title fight between Rafael Dos Anjos and Eddie Alvarez, then a TUF finale headlined by a strawweight title fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha and finally, the blockbuster UFC 200 pay-per-view in a three-day span.
Given that last year’s Fight Week included four title fights, we can probably expect at least that many this year. Because the heavyweight and strawweight titles will both be up for grabs in mid-may, however, it is unlikely that gold will be up for grabs in either of these divisions during this year’s Fight Week celebration.
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