Even the most successful business leaders miscalculate from time to time, but the good ones can spot the error and correct it before it turns into a disaster. The UFC tried to make an aggressive push into Utah with a Sunday night event, apparently underestimating just how important the day of observance is in the predominently Mormon state. When ticket sales were mediocre at best, the UFC pulled the plug on UFC on Versus 2 on Aug. 1. Some in Utah may be jumping for joy, not the Utah Athletic Commission.
"We went from excitement to deep sadness," Bill Colbert, head of the UAC, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It was very much uncharted territory for us. We have never had any sort of MMA event on a Sunday. We were hoping the UFC name would help overcome that, but it just doesn't fit with our demographics."
It's so taboo for sporting events in Utah to be held on Sunday that BYU doesn't play any of it games on the holy day. The school often gets special concessions from the NCAA when it comes to tournament play. With the Pac-10 looking for a 12th team, BYU will likely be passed over for Utah because of its refusal to play on Sundays.
"Our population doesn't generally like going to sporting events on a Sunday. It's worked for the (NBA's Utah) Jazz with a couple of playoff games, but it's not an ideal situation," Colbert told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a story headlined "UFC admits misstep, moves Sunday event out of Salt Lake City."
EnergySolutions Arena was configured for 11,800 for the MMA event. Mark Powell, vice president of events at EnergySolutions, told the Salt Lake Tribune only 2,500 had been sold. Michael David Smith of Fanhouse chimes in, saying that the cancellation is a sign that the promotion's incredible growth can't be maintained. This is a tough sell considering the UFC just sold 17,000 tickets for UFC 115 in Vancouver and posted a very Vegas-like $4.3 million gate.
UFC on Versus 2 scheduled for Aug. 1 is now going down at the San Diego Sports Arena. That arena hosted WEC 38 in January of 2009.