“This place is on fire right now!”
Those were UFC President Dana White’s words on Tuesday in Salt Lake City as he joined Utah Jazz owner Ryan Sweeney at a press event at Vivint Arena just a few days after it was announced that the promotion would be bringing a star-studded pay-per-view event to the city in August.
“If you’ve been watching us through the pandemic and since the pandemic, Singapore (UFC 275) was insane, (last weekend’s event in Austin, Texas) was insane, the fights are just — I don’t know what’s going on right now, but it’s been insane, and we’re going to bring that energy here too to Salt Lake (City).
“You think it’s good on TV, you think it’s fun watching it at home, and you think it’s great in the bar,” continued White, fired up about returning to Utah to the first time in six years while the UFC is in the midst of a string of outstanding shows. “Wait until you come watch it live in an arena like this! I guarantee you it will be the greatest sporting event that you have ever seen in your life live!
“The Utah Jazz too,” he added quickly, drawing a laugh from Sweeney.
It’s easy to understand why White and Sweeney are excited about what’s headed to Salt Lake City later this summer.
UFC 278 is slated to take place on Saturday, August 20 with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defending his title against No. 1 contender Leon Edwards in the main event. The two fought early in their UFC careers, with Usman getting the victory by decision, but cross paths now for a second time having emerged as two of the absolute best fighters not only in the division, but the entire roster.
“Usman is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world and he’s the greatest welterweight ever,” White said of Usman, who is a perfect 15-0 inside the Octagon, including five consecutive successful title defenses, and can equal legendary former middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s mark for the most consecutive UFC victories overall with a win over Edwards in late August.
“All the Canadians are going to be cranky, but it’s hard to deny this guy is the greatest welterweight ever if you look at what he’s done. Now he’s going out and lapped guys — he’s beaten guys twice — but I can tell you this: Leon Edwards is the No. 1 contender in the world right now, he’s the guy that should be fighting the champ, so we’ll see what Leon brings that night.
“We’ve got the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world taking on the No. 1 guy in the world, we’ve got Paulo Costa taking on Luke Rockhold on the card too, and Jose Aldo and Merab (Dvalishvili) are on the card too,” added White, his excitement level high, even for him.
Sweeney expressed excitement about bringing the event to the home of the NBA’s Jazz and UFC 278 serving as a jump-off point for regular visits from the mixed martial arts leader as well.
“I think it’s just the beginning of what we see for Utah and Utah sports,” said Sweeney. “I think that this is a big statement from the UFC — not only a fight, but a pay-per-view — and I promise we’ll sell out, we’ll break records, and I think it’s just the beginning.
“It shows you the growth in Utah, everything that everyone’s been working for for so long, and this is just one moment in time where we’re going to see this pay off, and you’ll see that more and more and more.”
Don't Miss A Moment Of UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2, Live From The Vivint Arena In Salt Lake City, Utah. Prelims Begin at 8pm ET/5pm PT Live On ABC & ESPN, While The Main Card Kicks Off At 10pm ET/7pm PT.