A UFC event in Hawaii is back to being nothing more than a fantasy.
UFC president Dana White said today at a UFC 223 press conference in New York that the UFC was planning an event in the islands in 2018 before talks with the Hawaii Tourism Authority stalled.
As a result, the company is back to saying it has no desire to hold a show in the 50th state.
“Hawaii was happening this year and it got shut down by the tourism board there,” White said. “So it won’t happen anytime soon. We were geared up and ready to go there this year.”
Sources told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last month that the two sides were far off on negotiations of financial terms to bring the biggest mixed martial arts organization in the world to Hawaii.
The UFC was asking for a $6 million sponsorship fee, which was more than what the NFL received for the Pro Bowl, according to an HTA official.
“The $6 million price tag, we just couldn’t afford … I mean, that’s not the kind of money that we have,” said Leslie Dance, vice president of marketing and product development for Hawaii Tourism Authority. “Whether we’ve paid that for the Pro Bowl or not … that’s what they compared it to. I think that’s where they came up with that number. It’s not the type of money we have in our current budget to fund it, but we really did want to make it work.”
The NFL received $5.2 million for the Pro Bowl in the final year it was held at Aloha Stadium in 2016.
The $1 million the HTA said it offered the UFC would have been “the largest fee paid by the HTA for any single sports event in 2018.”
White was at a press conference promoting Saturday’s pay-per-view event featuring Waianae’s Max Holloway against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title.
Holloway, who is the UFC featherweight champion, took the fight on six days’ notice when Tony Ferguson had to pull out over the weekend due to a knee injury.
The winner will be crowned the UFC’s official 155-pound champion.
The Star-Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis contributed to this report.