INDIANAPOLIS | There almost certainly were going to be struggles for the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday night.
Officials for the world's biggest mixed martial arts promotion knew doing a live show in a smaller market like Indianapolis on a Wednesday night might mean taking a some lumps with people in the seats and the live gate's bottom line.
But UFC President Dana White left Indy satisfied with how things turned out, given the circumstances.
The UFC returned to Indiana for the first time in nearly three years for UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was a free TV card on its new cable broadcast partner, Fox Sports 1 – a new network that only launched less than two weeks ago. The early numbers White announced at the post-event news conference were a total attendance of 5,950 for a live gate of $355,290. The Indiana State Athletic Commission likely will release official figures in the coming days.
When the promotion brought UFC 119, a Saturday night pay-per-view card, to the same venue in September 2010 nearly 16,000 fans filed in for a live gate of nearly $1.59 million.
On Fox Sports 1, most UFC "Fight Night" cards will be on Wednesday nights, and White said it's just a matter of balancing the dollars generated at the gate on Saturday night shows with the television numbers it is likely to get on Wednesdays.
"The whole tone tonight was, 'Oh, Wednesday night is going to be a challenge' The challenge is selling tickets," White said after the post-event news conference. "It's the live gate, is the one thing that's going to be the challenge – and we'll figure that out. We did $350,000 at the gate (on a Wednesday). It's (freaking) great."
On Saturdays, White said, people who want to travel from outside the live event's immediate region are more able to do so. "They make a weekend out of it," he said. But on Wednesday? "No one wants to go anywhere on a Wednesday night. They have to work the next morning." Those who did attend, White said, made up a knowledgeable MMA crowd, which may be a stroke in the pro column for the UFC to return to Indy in the future.
While White admitted Wednesday night live shows might not be his first option, it's the one Fox officials wanted to go with. During the fall, Fox Sports 1 will have college football programming on Saturdays would be higher up the food chain. But White doesn't believe that was the sole reason for parking the UFC on Wednesday.
"They put us on Wednesday night because they were looking for something strong they thought could deliver on a Wednesday night," he said.
Wednesday's event featured 12 fights, including a return to the win column for Hobart's Darren Elkins, who was a state champion wrestler at Portage. Elkins set the new UFC record for wins by a featherweight by going to 6-1 in the division with a win over Hatsu Hioki, a Japanese fighter who formerly was the second-ranked 145-pound fighter in the world.
In the main event, Carlos Condit avenged a loss from more than four years ago when he survived a rough first round to go on to dominate Martin Kampmann with a fourth-round TKO.