LAS VEGAS >> The UFC is holding its next fight show without fans or media members in attendance, and the mixed martial arts promotion isn’t saying why.
The UFC will stage a 13-bout Fight Night card at the Apex Gym on its corporate campus in Las Vegas on Saturday night, but no fans or reporters will be there. The UFC has held regular televised cards at the small gym since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but has typically allowed in groups of fans and media representatives.
Strawweight Mackenzie Dern, who is fighting Yan Xioanan in the main event, said at a media availability Wednesday that Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook cofounder and Meta chief executive officer, has “rented out the whole event.” Zuckerberg is a well-known MMA fan who has trained in the sport.
“I know he’ll be there,” Dern said. “But I don’t know if it’s just, like, literally him and his wife, if he’s going to have friends, or if it’s just like a small party. I don’t know. I’m excited, and that just makes me more driven to put on a good show. I know everyone’s watching on TV, but for Mark and whoever’s gonna be there, I’ll put on a show. That’s what they want to see, is a show. Then we’re going to give a show.”
UFC President Dana White has refused to announce a reason for the closure when asked in recent days, but he went on Twitter on Wednesday to deny that Zuckerberg has booked the entire Apex gym for himself.
A UFC spokesperson declined to comment when asked by The Associated Press, instead referring to an email sent to regular MMA reporters announcing the closure without a reason. Reporters are allowed to cover the official weigh-in on Friday, but not the fights.
ESPN+ is still broadcasting the Fight Night show as usual.