The Ultimate Fighting Championship is looking to return to the state of Michigan for the first time in 13 years, according to a published report in the Detroit Free Press.
UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner mentioned both the Joe Louis Arena and the Palace in Auburn Hills as possible hosting sites for a UFC card sometime in 2009.
The last time the UFC ventured into the Motor City was for UFC 9, which was held at the Cobo Arena in May of 1996. This event was the first event held by the UFC that did not feature a tournament style card. The main event was a super fight between UFC Hall of Famers Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock.
The event was almost canceled at the last minute due to a legal battle that forced the UFC to disallow closed fists. The referee of the night John McCarthy had little luck in enforcing the rule even though the fighters were warned that they faced possible arrest and prosecution. Thankfully no fighters were arrested but left with a bad taste in its mouth the UFC has not been back since despite Detroit being one of the bigger markets in the United States.
The main event which was won by Severn via split decision has been roundly criticized as one of the worst UFC fights of all time as both fighters circled each other for 30 minutes inflicting very little damage. Ratner stated that they were waiting to get all of the rules in place before making any final decisions. He also said that Detroit is one of the leading cities in pay-per-view buys and ratings from their Spike TV cards.