Is the Octagon girl worth the cost of a UK trip?

• Octagon Girls Holly Holm and Catherine De Niro arrive ahead of the event • Fri 30 Dec, 8pm ET/ 5pm GMT

Manchester Live: UFC 269

Millmoor Arena, Manchester

The UFC has been in Manchester for a few years now. Part of its big push was a world title fight and then UFC 199, the biggest show in the UK since UFC 10 in London 10 years ago. We caught up with UFC officials to find out what is planned for the event and what you can expect from the fight cards in Manchester over the next few years.


Is Thursday’s weigh-in live?

No. The weigh-in takes place on Wednesday in Las Vegas, so you should check the UFC’s website before flying over to Manchester to find out how much of a seat you have.

No viewing booths or screens?

Check the seating plan before you arrive. The stadiums have large fabric sheets over the grandstands. Some will show the lightweight and lightweights event, others will show the heavier fights. Some venues will have only two or three screens and some of the bigger venues will have more than one big screen.

The seating is packed for the UFC fight card in Manchester. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Fingers crossed…

The venue is full, the television coverage on BT Sport 3 will look good. The UFC president Dana White says the prelims and fights on pay-per-view will look as good as the main event, so that’s a big positive. Last week Georges St-Pierre was cleared by USADA and White said there will be four more fights with the long awaited return of the Canada’s middleweight champion coming in 2018.

Are the fights enough to make the event worth the trip?

I’d certainly like to be able to say that, but it’s so hard to guarantee it. I like to see the heavyweights, but I’m not that fond of the lightweight division. But, I’d definitely pay to watch that fight. The guy Josh Thomson beat for the title has been out of the division for over two years and coming back is always an interesting story. Some of the lighter fighters – we’ve been here a few times and got the same cast of characters – I’d love to watch another fight between Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. It’s just been a ‘show biz’ scene, but McGregor and Pettis going at it is just a spectacle. Some of those fights have been quality of fights, but it’s been so one-sided that it’s been boring. The lightweights are my favourites to watch live though. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are always classic fights in the UFC and likely to be in the main event this time.

As for depth, I don’t know. A lot depends on how everything comes together. But, if you are a fan and you enjoy the action, if it is well-choreographed and professional, a lot of this stuff does work. A lot depends on how the Mexican cliques feel about each other. That’s big in boxing and they’re a huge influence in MMA. This show should be awesome.

Main event

Dustin Poirier vs Charles Oliveira

Team: LA Tigre

Ryan Hall will join Holly Holm and Catherine De Niro as stand-up comedy acts for the UFC’s live UK shows.

What’s new for the UK?

We’re bringing our biggest show to the UK and this year will mark three years since the first UFC event here. The stadium has 800 premium seating. Stand-up comedy in Spanish and English will take place for the first time. We’ve also brought the UFC family, including Dana White, Dana White’s Dad, Greg Jackson, Jen Welter, Anna-Marie Henderson, the Octagon Girls, CM Punk, Michael Johnson, Fitchworth, and numerous celebrity fans, dancers and boxer and retired professional fighter Cassius Clay. On the hotel side, the Radisson Blu Centrebrook Hotel has 43 suites and 6 blocks of free wi-fi.

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