UFC Set to Hold First-Ever Event in Saudi Arabia on March 2, 2024

UFC octagon headed to Saudi Arabia
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: UFC Octagon Girl Luciana Andrade introduces a round during the UFC 270 event at Honda Center on January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

The UFC is set to head to Saudi Arabia for the first time in promotion history next year.

On Wednesday, ESPN, the UFC’s official U.S. broadcast partner, broke the news that the promotion would hold a Fight Night event in conjunction with Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Season festival on March 2, 2024.

No further details have been revealed for the promotion’s debut in the kingdom. The move comes shortly after the merger of WWE and UFC under the TKO Group banner was finalized, and with that in mind, does not come as a shock: pro wrestling’s WWE has made annual, albeit controversial, trips to Saudi Arabia for some time now.

Several WWE stars have refused to work the company’s Saudi dates, including Kevin Owens and former star Alistair Black (now Malakai Black of AEW). The country has a deplorable human rights record, with the U.S. Government declaring that crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had given the green light for the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

While women were initially excluded from competing in Saudi Arabia, that changed in 2019, with Natalya and Lacey Evans facing off while wearing full bodysuits and t-shirts to comply with Saudi requirements for females to dress “modestly.”

It remains to be seen whether the UFC will bring any of its female roster along for the ride, or if any fighters may opt to avoid the event for political reasons. Former UFC champ Francis Ngannou, however, is set to face Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia later this month.