On September 10, 2016, the UFC made its debut in Cleveland, Ohio at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. It was UFC 203, Stipe Miocic against Alistair Overeem for the Heavyweight title. Stipe is from Cleveland and so the pieces were in place for the octagon to come to the shores of Lake Erie. I was at UFC 203; it was a total sellout and the fans were into just about every fight on the card. Although, fans were especially amped for Stipe’s fight. Before any action started, the crowd randomly started chanting “Here We Go Brownies Here We Go! Here We Go Brownies Here We Go!” This seems to be pretty fitting for the Cleveland fanbase as it is a Browns town first. But since this date, the UFC hasn’t come back to Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the WWE has come to RMFH three times. The first time was for Monday Night RAW on March 26, 2018. The second time was for WWE FastLane (the PPV right before WrestleMania 35) on March 10, 2019. The third time is going to be on July 23, 2021, for Friday Night Smackdown which will serve as the fallout for the Money In The Bank PayPerView.
The WWE Universe (that’s the nickname for WWE fans) and UFC fans are two different fanbases. However, it doesn’t explain why the UFC hasn’t returned to Cleveland. Now, there’s a theory which states that the reason is simply that Cleveland is a small market and there’s not a big enough fanbase. But the octagon has been to small cities before. For example, UFC Fight Night: Anderson vs. Błachowicz 2 took place on February 15, 2020, emulated from Rio Rancho, New Mexico. There was also UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs Figueiredo on February 29, 2020, and it took place from Norfolk, Virginia. These are not big cities and yet the octagon went there.
Even if the octagon never returns to Cleveland, which I hope isn’t the case, UFC 203 here in The Land was absolutely amazing and totally worth attending.