For the first time since 2007, Zuffa, LLC will not promote a fight card in conjunction with the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio this coming March. When asked about a return in 2011, UFC president Dana White said Wednesday, “Definitely not this year.”
The four-year run began with UFC 68 in March of 2007, that saw Randy Couture come out of retirement to take the UFC heavyweight belt from Tim Sylvia. The tradition was continued in 2008 with UFC 82: Pride of a Champion, where Anderson Silva unified the Pride and UFC middleweight belts by submitting Dan Henderson. In 2009 the star power of the annual card dropped off with UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine, and this year Zuffa opted to send the UFC’s sister promotion, the WEC to Columbus for WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz.
It had been rumored that the WEC would return in 2011, however the promotion will be swallowed up by the UFC after the upcoming WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis on December 16. The UFC’s February – March schedule is busy with travel, including UFC 127 on February 26 in Australia, and UFC 128 expected to take place in Abu Dhabi on March 19, and apparently couldn’t accommodate the usual visit to the Arnolds, which will be held in Columbus on March 3-6, 2011.
Pictured: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio