On the post-UFC 118 edition of Wrestling Observer Radio on Saturday night (subscription required), Dave Meltzer reports the UFC has narrowed down the list of potential sites for the Nov. 20 UFC 123 to either Cleveland, Detroit or Pittsburgh.
Upon further review of Meltzer's report, MMAForReal.com has concluded that, due to building availability on event day and the day prior to the show, the most likely candidate for the event appears to be The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit, home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons and a building that has hosted mixed martial arts in the past.
The show is scheduled to be headlined by a clash between former light-heavyweight champions Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto Machida.
If the UFC does indeed choose one of these three cities, it will be the first time the company has ran a show under the Zuffa banner in those cities. UFC 9 was held at Cobo Arena in Detroit back in 1996 and was one of the most highly-attended events of the pre-Zuffa era.
Zuffa has run shows in Pennsylvania and Ohio during the past two years (UFC 101 in Philadelphia for Pennsylvania and WEC 47 and UFC 96 in Ohio) but has not run a show in Michigan.
If held in Cleveland, the site likely would be Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA's Cavaliers, an arena that could hold in the 21,000 range for an MMA show. In Detroit, the likely site would be the suburban Palace of Auburn Hills, which could hold a little more than 24,000, and has held local MMA shows in the past.
In Pittsburgh, the brand new Consol Energy Center would be the likely site. The arena, in a full configuration, could hold just shy of 20,000 people.
Of those three arenas, only The Palace is not booked the day prior to the show. All three arenas are open for the event date, but the UFC likes to hold its weigh-ins at the arena. The primary tenant of Consol Energy Center, the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, host Carolina on Friday, Nov. 19. At Quicken Loans Arena, the building's secondary tenant, the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters, host Toronto on the 19th.
Detroit's other arena, Joe Louis Arena, see its primary tenant, the Detroit Red Wings, host Minnesota on the 19th before the arena plays host to "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" on the 20th.
With all that information, it would seem like, of those three sites, The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit would be the likely candidate to hold the event.
[UPDATE by Matt Bishop 8/31/10 at 11:33 p.m. ET] Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission chairman Dr. James Weber told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday that he believes it's a "done deal" for the UFC to run UFC 123 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit on Nov. 20.
"My understanding is that it is a done deal," Weber said Tuesday. "Detroit deserves this. It is a boxing and MMA town. It would be a great boost to the economy and represents the character, fight and will of the people in this area. It is a dream of mine come true."
Al Low, former chairman of the commission and a UFC representative in Detroit, told the Free Press on Tuesday evening that the UFC had formally requested the date with the Palace.
"I believe Nov. 20 (at the Palace) is a very, very solid date for UFC 123," Low said. "The request was made today."
This is tremendous news for those of us from Michigan who have been craving a UFC show for so long.