Dan Hooker appeals to Dana White to bring the UFC to New Zealand’s South Island

The UFC has been to New Zealand twice, on both occasions to its northernmost city, Auckland.

Going there makes a lot of sense, not only is it the country’s biggest and most populous city, but it’s the home of the famed City Kickboxing gym that houses New Zealand’s elite MMA talent.

The first time the UFC came to the country was in 2014.

Back then, Dan Hooker was the lone homegrown fighter on the card. In 2017, the promotion returned and Luke Jumeau joined The Hangman as the only other Kiwi on the card to be fighting out of the country.

Fast forward to 2019 and New Zealand has its first UFC champion in Israel Adesanya.

Alongside his City Kickboxing teammate Dan Hooker, the pair were the headline acts in front of a UFC record 57,127 people at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium less than two weeks ago.

The appetite for a return of the UFC to New Zealand is at a fever pitch. Kiwi fighters are running riot in the organisation. Eugene Bareman’s men have amassed a 20-1 record in the UFC since the start of 2018.

Auckland appears to be a no brainer for the UFC to hold an event in the very near future.

But with a record-setting crowd at Marvel Stadium, Auckland’s Spark Arena suddenly appears a bit too small, the last event there held only 7,468 people.

Depending on the type of card the UFC wanted to bring, a bigger venue would be required to house New Zealand’s UFC athletes that are quickly becoming household names in the country.

Step in Dunedin.

Dan Hooker has called on UFC President Dana White to bring the UFC to New Zealand’s southernmost city.

Situated at the opposite end of the country from Auckland, Dunedin sits at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island.

World-famous in New Zealand as a raucous student party town, Dunedin houses the country’s preeminent indoor stadium, Forsyth Barr.

Typically used for rugby union and big named musicians, Forsyth Barr Stadium would be perfect to host a UFC event.

The completely covered stadium is rectangular in shape with the fan viewing experience therefore likely to be far less arduous than that of Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium. With a capacity of 36,000 (for concerts), it is the biggest indoor stadium in New Zealand. Not only that, but Dunedin’s city centre is known as ‘The Octagon.’

While the population of Dunedin is rather small (128,000), the South Island’s population has in excess of one million. It is extremely common for road trips down to ‘Dunners’ for major events (In 2018, 108,000 people went to Ed Sheeran concerts spanned over three nights, with 70,000 of those attending coming from outside the city).

The UFC is booming in New Zealand. The Kiwis have arrived and are punching well above their weight in more ways than one.

Whether the UFC would seriously consider taking the promotion to Dunedin remains to be seen. Much would hinge on whether they would be wanting to bring a pay-per-view or a fight night to the country.

While Auckland will certainly remain the frontrunner, if the UFC wants to make their next New Zealand event a true spectacle, if they want to make it a mammoth event, Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr is the only option.

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My earliest combat sports memory is watching David Tua knock people out with his left hook.  I am extremely passionate about combat sports in Australia and my home country of New Zealand and I endeavour to grow the profile of martial arts and its athletes in both countries. Persistent Brazilian jiu-jitsu battler.