The Ultimate Fighting Championship is coming to Bangor.
Dana White, the 1987 Hermon High School graduate who serves as president of the world’s top mixed martial arts organization, announced late Thursday afternoon that he has scheduled a UFC Fight Night card for Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Cross Insurance Center.
The show is scheduled to be televised live on Fox Sports 1.
“Obviously I have a big connection to the Bangor area,” said White, who owns a home in Levant and returns to the area several times each year to vacation with his family. “And when they built the arena and the [Hollywood] casino up there, it was a really big deal for the city. I don’t think people realize how big that is for Bangor.”
White took a hard-hat tour of the Cross Insurance Center during the summer of 2012 in the midst of the construction process, then indicated during a visit to the area last June that a UFC show at the 5,800-seat facility was already in the discussion stages even before the replacement for the Bangor Auditorium formally opened in September.
“I wanted this so badly, I just had to figure out financially if we could make it work,” said White Thursday night by phone from Cincinnati, where preparations were under way for another UFC Fight Night card on Saturday that also will be aired by Fox Sports 1. “We got it done.”
White, who confirmed plans for the Aug. 16 show on Twitter, said he ordinarily doesn’t schedule UFC events in markets as small as Bangor.
“Never,” he said. “This wouldn’t have happened in a million years if I didn’t have the relationship I have with that city.”
White said he was given some leeway by other UFC officials to schedule the Bangor show in light of the organization’s propensity to focus on much larger markets, but he also gave significant credit to officials of Global Spectrum, which manages the Cross Insurance Center, and Hollywood Casino for making the deal possible.
“Global Spectrum is incredibly excited to be hosting UFC this August for a nationally televised event at Cross Insurance Center,” said Joe Imbriaco, Cross Insurance Center general manager, in an email.
“Seeing Dana White tweet out the announcement to his 2.8 million followers and knowing the international attention that brings to Bangor is very exciting. We appreciate the willingness of both Dana and his staff in working to bring UFC to Bangor and can’t wait for a great show.”
White said he expects the event not only to feature some of the top talent in the UFC but to provide a significant financial boost to the area.
“People will be coming in from New York, New Hampshire, Boston, Connecticut, Canada and all over the world for these fights,” said White. “With the type of crowd we bring in filling the restaurants and the hotels, this will be a big boost for the economy.”
White, who made a $100,000 donation to upgrade the athletic complex at Hermon High School in 2011, said no specific fights have yet been scheduled for the Bangor card.
But Saturday’s UFC Fight Night show in Cincinnati, for example, will involve 13 bouts, headlined by a five-round welterweight clash between seventh-ranked Matt “The Immortal” Brown (20-11) and No. 14 Erick Silva (16-4).
“All I know is I want to bring a killer show to Bangor,” he said.