Former UFC welterweight Dan Hardy says the UFC is unable to return to Liverpool as the Arena no longer hosts combat sports.
Liverpool has previously held a UFC event headlined by its hometown star Darren Till who took on Stephen Thompson in the main event back in May 2018. That event took place in Liverpool Arena formerly known as the Echo Arena.
The Arena itself has since been renamed the M&S Bank Arena for sponsorship reasons back in 2019.
Hardy believes that the change in naming rights is what’s blocking the UFC from returning to Liverpool. He explained in an interview with The MMA Hour the reasons behind it.
“This is the reason why the UFC aren’t going back to Liverpool, is because they’ve got a different sponsor at the arena. And the sponsor won’t allow combat sports. Yeah, the Echo is no longer the Echo. I think it’s the M&S Arena, Marks & Spencer. It’s a different brand, and they won’t allow combat sports. So, that’s what’s putting the block on Paddy and Molly coming back to Liverpool. Very, Very sad. Really disappointing, and very short-sighted of that brand… It’d be incredible.”
It appears with the brand sponsoring, the Arena is against entertaining combat sports in any capacity.
However, the M&S Bank Arena has previously held boxing events under the new sponsor. The Arena hosted a combat sports event as recently as last Friday when a Probellum boxing event saw Paul Butler take on Jonas Sultan for the interim WBO bantamweight title at the Arena.
This could mean that the M&S Bank Arena is against hosting MMA specifically, which would only infuriate both Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann who have been vocal about their ambitions to headline events in the city.
Should the UFC return to Liverpool, one of the pair could headline the card in the main event as well as a possible return for fan-favorite Till. There have been claims that the Arena could be too small to host a UFC event currently due to the popularity of the sport in the UK.
The M&S Bank Arena has almost half the capacity of the O2 Arena which typically hosts UFC London. Rumors have spread surrounding Anfield Stadium hosting a UFC event in its place yet an event there would also involve complications.
Would you like to see UFC return to Liverpool? Or should the UFC stick to London?