Patrons at a UFC gym in Kendall have varying opinions as to what keeps big mixed martial arts fights away from Miami.
Mixed martial arts has become a trending sport in the last decade. Las Vegas, Tampa and Denver are some of the cities that are in line to host Ultimate Fighting Championship events. However, Miami has no major fight lined up.
UFC fever struck the world of entertainment. Professional mix martial arts fighters, such as Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Kimbo Slice, have become popular.
UFC is popular in other states and cities like Hollywood and Orlando are hosting Fight Nights.
“Not enough advertisement, not enough coverage,” said Luis “Baboon” Palomino, a professional martial artist. “Every card they brought to Miami wasn’t a big name, if you want people to come fill the seats you need to support the homeboys.”
Some individuals think the root of the problem might be a matter of money.
“They won’t come to Miami because it is the most corrupt city in the U.S. Even more than New York,” said Ricarlo Rivera, a jiu-jitsu practitioner. “There’s a pretty decent fighting community here, definitely less than Las Vegas, but it’s a money thing that’s the issue,”
Unlike the other patrons, Jason Leon says that UFC is already popular in the area. He has been practicing mixed martial arts since he was a child.
“It has so much popularity here, it’s almost as popular as soccer. UFC is like the Olympics of martial arts,” said Leon. “There’s big enthusiasm here, it has become a cultural thing.”