Report: UFC’s Return to New Zealand Slated for February in Auckland

By Nathan Zur Nov 18, 2019
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It looks like New Zealand mixed martial arts fans are set to get an early Christmas present, with the Ultimate Fighting Championship readying an announcement for their return to the country after more than a two-year hiatus. Reports indicate the event will be held inside Auckland's Spark Arena on Feb. 23.

The UFC was last in New Zealand in June 2017 and was headlined by heavyweights Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis.

The New Zealand Herald has confirmed the return of the promotion after speaking with UFC senior vice president of international and content David Shaw.

"We are thrilled to return to Auckland with our third live UFC event," Shaw said.

"New Zealand is a hot market for UFC, led by the success of new unified middleweight champion Israel Adesanya but also the likes of Dan Hooker and Kai Kara-France.

"Our Kiwi fans are some of the most passionate in the world and we can't wait to put on a great show for them," continues Shaw. The event is yet to have any fights confirmed; however, the promotion is looking to book No 7-ranked lightweight Hooker in either the co-main event or the headliner, while Kara-France will aim to make a quick turnaround after his upcoming fight in Las Vegas.

The report suggested that a number of local New-Zealand fighters have been contacted about their availability in either February or March.

It had been rumoured that New Zealand-born Robert Whittaker was named as a fighter of interest for the event as he recently cancelled a speaking tour so he could train for an “exciting opportunity.”

Whittaker is coming off a loss in October to Kiwi-based Adesanya, but if given the lead time he would be ready for the Auckland card. Although “The Reaper” is unlikely to feature as he’s shown interest in taking on the UK’s Darren Till next year in London.

The Herald has suggested Kiwi-born lightweight contender Dan Hooker may be the headliner on the card, with the No. 7 ranked 155-pounder eyeing a fight to edge him closer to a title after successive victories over James Vick and more recently Al Iaquinta in Melbourne.

New-Zealand has three ranked fighters plying their trade inside the Octagon with the middleweight champ Adesanya, lightweight Hooker and the No. 6-ranked flyweight Kara-France. Advertisement

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