Although the main event lacked a star studded bout UFC 96 was a resounding success as Ohio once again showed why the UFC loves going to the Buckeye state.
UFC 96 drew a sold out crowd of 17,033 fans earning the organization a live gate $1.8 million, according to UFC president Dana White. This was the third consecutive year that the UFC held an event on the same weekend as the Arnold Sports Festival which is a three day sports and fitness show held in Columbus.
During the post fight press conference White said he had heard that between the UFC event and the sorts festival Columbus had an influx of $41 million to their economy this weekend. White also mentioned that he had plans on bringing another UFC event to the area.
Randy Couture coming out of retirement to defeat Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 68 was the organization’s first trip into Ohio back in 2007. That event drew 19,049 fans with a live gate of over $3 million.
The UFC made its way back to Ohio with a hometown hero Rich Franklin looking to reclaim his middleweight title from Anderson Silva at UFC 77 in October of 2007. Although Franklin was unsuccessful, the show delivered at the box office with 16,064 fans packing the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati for a live gate of just over $2.5 million.
Silva made a second appearance in Ohio at UFC 82 as he took on PRIDE middleweight champion in a title unification bout. Once again Silva walked out of Ohio victorious as did the UFC. That event drew a shade over 16,000 fans for a live gate of $2.2 million.
White went on to say that the UFC loves Ohio and touted how successful all of the shows there have been. It appears the love is mutual as Ohio Athletic Commission Executive Director Bernie Profato presented White with a lifetime matchmaker’s license this past week.