UFC is once again ahead of the curve.
The MMA promotion company was among the first to host no-audience competitions last year. On Saturday, it hosted one of the first full-capacity indoor events.
UFC 261’s packed crowd of 15,269 fans in Jacksonville produced a rarely-seen visual since shutdowns began in March 2020. Masks were not required, and a significant amount of spectators opted not to wear one, including Tom Brady and YouTube star-turned-boxer Jake Paul.
There have been two other U.S. sporting events with large crowds, both outside:
- WrestleMania totaled 51,350 fans over two nights at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on April 10-11.
- The Texas Rangers had a full-capacity crowd of 38,238 for their season opener at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Ticket sales for UFC 261 brought in around $3.3 million. Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title with a stunning second-round knockout of Jorge Masvidal.
Many states still do not permit full-capacity outdoor events, let alone indoor ones, but Florida has consistently pushed the envelope on opening up. Jacksonville was also host to UFC 249 last May.
“It’s time to get back to normal,” UFC president Dana White told Rolling Stone. “… you can’t deny it felt pretty [expletive] good to be in Florida this week and be normal.”