By Ferd Lewis
July 28, 2017
“The long and the short of it is that UFC is very, very interested in having a (Max Holloway) fight here and having it at Aloha Stadium,” state Sen. Glenn Wakai told the Aloha Stadium Authority Thursday.
Wakai (D, Kalihi, Salt Lake, Aliamanu) said he and Aloha Stadium manager Scott Chan took part in a recent conference call with Peter Dropick, UFC senior vice president event development and operations, and the prospects were good for a Holloway fight in the spring or summer of 2018.
“The only thing that could mess things up is if Holloway gets injured,” Wakai said.
Waianae’s Holloway, the UFC featherweight champion, is expected to fight later this year, and Wakai said “whether he wins or loses that fight, as long as he doesn’t get injured” the chances for a fight were promising.
Holloway has campaigned to bring a title fight here and Wakai has become what stadium authority chairman Ross Yamasaki called, “our point man,” in exploring the possibilities.
Earlier this month UFC President Dana White told MMAjunkie.com the prospects of holding a fight at open air Aloha Stadium were not good. “It’s tough, it’s a tough one to pencil,” White said.
Wakai, a frequent critic of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said he has approached the HTA about whether it would be willing to “pony up some money to support the fight” and came away doubting the HTA’s interest in a UFC event.
But HTA board chairman Rick Fried said, “We’d certainly be very open to considering having the UFC bring a fight here. We have a strict process for proposals and contracts…we need to follow.”
Fried said, “We get tons of proposals but we’ve never had one from the UFC.”
Wakai said third party data for a 2014 UFC event in Las Vegas showed that UFC fans “generated $190 million in economic activity and spent almost three times what average visitors spent.” Moreover, they stayed an average of 4.9 nights compared to 3.3.
Yamasaki said, “I’m really interested in hearing what the (UFC’s) requirements would be. But we’d have to see how it pencils out and that’s always the toughest part.”