Best UFC Events Outside of USA
The UFC will touch down at T-Mobile Arena this weekend when Ciryl Gane takes on Jon Jones in a Heavyweight championship bout at UFC 285. T-Mobile arena is the UFC’s most popular venue and has hosted massive events over the years (and Bodog has always had the best UFC odds), including the Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov matchup at UFC 229 and the Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier bout at UFC 226.
That’s not to say that big fights don’t happen elsewhere. In this article, we’re going to look back at the best UFC events outside of USA, based on the live event attendance numbers.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The record for the most-attended UFC event in history goes to UFC 243 in October 2019. This one took place in Melbourne, Australia at the Marvel Stadium, and so simply has to go down as one of the best UFC events outside of USA. The main card had a highly-anticipated Middleweight championship unification bout between Robert Whittaker (champion) and Israel Adesanya (interim champion). A sold-out crowd of 57,127 spectators watched in person as Adesanya pulled one of the greatest upsets in UFC history.
Betting lines opened with Whittaker as the -185 favourite to defend his title against Adesanya (+160), who was 6-0 since joining the UFC 18 months ago. But lots of early betting on the underdog resulted in a flip on the lines; Adesanya was favoured by the close.
Those who took Adesanya were not disappointed; the Nigerian-born New Zealander stood back in the first round and observed his opponent before adjusting his style and dropping his Whittaker to the mat late in the first. Adesanya was the better fighter in the second round and knocked out Whittaker 3:33 minutes in to claim the undisputed title. He earned Performance of the Night accolades on top of that.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Until UFC 243 happened in 2019, UFC 193 held the record for the most-attended event in the history of the sport. This one took place at Etihad Stadium—again in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia—and after the initial header featuring Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit was scrapped, the headliner ended up featuring a woman’s Bantamweight championship bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. Anyone familiar with this event knows that it went down in history as the third-biggest upset in the UFC.
Rousey was untouchable for three years in the UFC’s women’s Bantamweight division. She defended her title a record-setting (at the time) six times prior to UFC 193 and she was a massive -1500 favourite against Holly Holm (+1200), who had only two UFC fights (both victories) to her name at that time.
Holm’s superior boxing skills were on display in the first round, as Rousey ended up bloodied and exhausted by the end. In the second round, Holm continued her stick and move approach, which proved to be too much for Rousey, who was on the receiving end of a powerful kick that knocked her down. Sherdog named the bout Upset of the Year for 2015.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The biggest UFC event to take place in North America was UFC 129, which took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2011. Although the UFC had already been to Canada five times prior, this was the first time it took place in Ontario. It was held at Rogers Centre and had a sold-out attendance of 55,724.
The main card featured three Canadian fighters. Quebecois native Georges St-Pierre was defending his Welterweight title for the sixth time and was facing Jake Shields, the former Middleweight champion for Strikeforce. St. Pierre was a big -500 favourite against Shields (+365), who had just one UFC fight under his belt since making his way over from Strikeforce.
The co-main event was between Featherweight champion Jose Aldo and challenger, Ontario-born Mark Hominick. Lastly, Woodbridge, Ontario native Mark Bocek was taking on Benson Henderson in a Lightweight bout. Only one of the three Canadian fighters on the main card ended up winning, and it was St. Pierre. He won by unanimous decision after going the distance in what many considered to be a snooze-fest with Shields.
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Fourth on our list of the best UFC events outside of USA is UFC 198, which had a head count of 45,207 back in 2016. This was the first event to take place in Curitiba, Brazil and it was held at the Arena da Baixada. As expected, the main card was loaded with Brazilian fighters, including Curitiba native, Cris Cyborg, who was debuting for the UFC that night and would eventually become the UFC women’s Featherweight champion from 2017 to 2018.
The headliner was a Heavyweight championship bout between Brazilian native (Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul) Fabricio Werdum and his challenger, Stipe Miocic. Werdum was just coming off of a title unification fight against Cain Velasquez and was defending his undisputed title for the first time. As for Miocic, he was coming off of an impressive first-round victory where he knocked out his opponent in under a minute, earning the Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts. It took just under three minutes for Miocic to do the same to the Heavyweight champ when he entered the ring as a +150 underdog.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
It’s always a treat when Georges St-Pierre fights in his home province of Quebec, Canada. For UFC 124, he was featured in the headliner against Josh Koscheck, and it generated a crowd of 23,152. St-Pierre was set to defend his Welterweight title for the fifth time that night in a rematch of UFC 74 three years earlier.
Unlike at UFC 129 further up in this list, this fight did not disappoint fans. St-Pierre underwent training with boxing expert Freddy Roach beforehand and showed off his new skills in the Octagon with more jabs and less ground work. After dominating in all rounds, St-Pierre won via unanimous decision—the exact same result he achieved at UFC 74. Both he and Koscheck earned Fight of the Night bonuses that night in Montreal, and the Welterweight king extended his record to 21-2.