On August 16th, I had the privilige to witness Maine sports history as the state hosted an event run by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Not just any UFC event, mind you. It was UFC Fight Night 47, broadcasted nationally on Fox Sports 1 from the still-holds-the-new-car-smell Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

I took my writer hat off and enjoyed the event as a fan. From my seat in Section 109, I saw the potential that hosting a major mixed martial arts show could be in this state.

The simple question is, will it come back?

The event was a long-time vision of UFC promoter Dana White, who graduated from Hermon High School in 1987 and still holds a summer residence within the state. His grandparents lived in Levant, and he recently gave a $100,000 donation to his alma mater to help improve the athletic facilities.

“The arena was being built, they gave us a walk-through and I said, ‘… I’m going to make this happen no matter what,’ and we did,” White told the Portland Press Herald before the fight.

The pros to return to Maine were plenty. A solid crowd of 5,329 fans attended the show. The lines ran long around the merchandise table, with hardworking folks willing to drop down $400 for an authentic UFC title belt, or even $32 for a simple UFC t-shirt (admittedly, I dropped $85 for a t-shirt and a sweatshirt). Many of those fans killed time across the street, either pressing their luck at Hollywood Casino or testing their Irish heritage (real or for one night only) at Geaghan’s Pub. I lived the high life and doubled my $20 bet limit.

The fans who attended the show were anything but quiet, staying rowdy all through five-hour long marathon (there were two hours of preliminary fights before the broadcast even aired). Smartly, White was able to include a fellow Mainer on the card — Camden native Tim Boetsch — who fought Brad Tavares. It was easily the loudest response of the night. The fight had a bit of a “Rocky” feel to it, with Boetsch taking a pounding. Early in the fight, Tavares landed a big elbow that cut Boetsch open underneath his left eye. Near the end of the first round, Boetsch was stuck against the cage with Tavares landed multiple knee shots.

Boetsch completely turned the fight around in the second round, landing a left hand out of nowhere that knocked Tavares straight to the canvas. Tavares bounced back up but Boetsch landed a right hand that knocked Tavares back down and ended the fight, giving the Mainer the upset win and bringing the crowd into a frenzy.

“It was a great opportunity to be able to fight so close to home and finishing things the way I did, it definitely feels good,” Boetsch said to the Press Herald after the fight.

A win for both Boetsch, UFC and Maine.

The main event pitted Ryan Bader against Ovince St. Preux in a light heavyweight bout. Bader was the heavy favorite, but both fought all five rounds before Bader took the bout by judge’s decision. An excellent main event to wrap up an excellent show.

There were, unfortunately, cons as well. The biggest came from the occasional empty seat around the building. The Cross Insurance Center was 700 seats short of a sellout. The total gate for the show was $321, 470, according to the Press Herald. The big UFC shows are usually held in the organization’s Las Vegas home base. Future shows will take place in locations such as Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Phoenix and Mexico City. By UFC standards, $321,470 is chump-change — especially when you consider Boetsch got a $50,000 bonus on top of his payday for having one of the show’s top fights of the evening.

The decision isn’t just White’s to make. He has to answer to Lorenzo Fertitta, the chairman of Zuffa, LLC, the organization’s ownership company.

“Like I said, the first one didn’t make too much financial sense and Lorenzo and the team, everyone supported me that I wanted to come here and do this thing no matter what,” White said after the fight. “I wanted this fight to happen.”

White hinted that the UFC could return to Maine, but a return to Bangor is unlikely. A possibility is the newly renovated Cross Insurance Arena in Portland (formerly known as the Cumberland County Civic Center and yes, I, too, am confused).

The closest similarity of an event that comes to Maine is World Wrestling Entertainment. The professional wrestling juggernaut holds two shows in the state per year, one in Portland and another either in Augusta or Bangor. These are called “house shows,” which are non-televised events, simply entertaining the fans in the arena like a traveling circus. The last time Maine hosted an edition of “Monday Night Raw,” the WWE’s flagship show, came Dec. 8, 1997 during the famed “Monday Night Wars” with World Championship Wrestling. I happened to be at the show that night in Portland, along with about 6,000 or so other fans, to watching WWE performers like Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin. As WWE’s popularity grew, so did the size of the arenas for their TV shows, meaning Maine was officially out of the picture.

The UFC is already established and completely different than the WWE (White and WWE chairman Vince McMahon would be the first to tell you this). The WWE is on the road well over 200 days a year in various towns all over world. While their wrestlers do in fact take a physical toll (imagine landing flat on your back on the deck of your house and you’re getting close to an actual wrestling bump), they pull punches and are usually able to get up and wrestle the next day. The UFC only has so many fighters and it takes months of training and healing between each fight, since they are indeed legitimately pounding each other. UFC shows are only once a week and always televised, giving the group less chances to make money, meaning they need to sell as many tickets as possible wherever and whenever they can on top of organization’s TV revenue. It’s just good business sense, especially when you’re the top mixed martial arts organization in the world.

The UFC hits Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on Sept. 5. It already hosted an event at the TD Garden in Boston last year. It’s very likely the UFC could return to one or both of those venues in the future, based on the number of seats each can hold.

So take heart, Maine MMA fans. The UFC may not come back to your back yard, but it hasn’t left the neighborhood.

Dave Dyer — 621-5639

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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