Las Vegas is the home of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts company more commonly known as UFC. Every month the UFC holds a pay-per-view event with its best fights and at least four of them have taken place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
While the UFC hasn’t surpassed boxing as the biggest sporting event in Vegas, it’s knocking on the door, and many matches completely sell out. As the popularity of the sport continues to grow, here is a complete guide on how to catch a match—and what to in Las Vegas while in town for the battle.
Tickets generally go on sale one and a half months before the fight through Ticketmaster. Fans that pay for membership to the Ultimate and Elite levels of UFC Fight Club get first access to tickets through a presale two days before the regular on-sale. The second crack goes to those who receive the UFC newsletter. They get access to tickets a day before the general public.
Finally, there’s the public on-sale. Tickets for major fights generally sell out, but there are occasional fights that don’t.
There’s also the secondary market if tickets are sold out on the primary market or you’re looking for better seats. The most well-known option is grabbing tickets from StubHub, but the site won’t list tickets for the event until they’re actually sold through MGM, in case you’re trying to get tickets before the public on-sale. Other options are ticket aggregation websites, like SeatGeek and TiqIQ, that combine all of the secondary ticket sites except StubHub.
Nearly all major airlines fly to Las Vegas from various cities around the country. Flight prices will be highest during the peak seasons for Vegas, which are the spring and the fall. Prices increase quite a bit closer to the travel date, so book as far in advance as possible. Hipmunk, a travel aggregator, can help find flight and hotel across budget requirements.
Those living on the west coast can consider driving to Las Vegas. Los Angeles is under a four-hour drive, while drivers can make it from Phoenix or San Diego in less than five hours. Those cities also offer bus service to Vegas, but with all the stops it becomes a much longer journey. You can also look into the idea of flying to one of those cities and driving from there if you wanted to combine two towns into one vacation.
Where to Stay
Unlike with mega fights in boxing, rates at the MGM Grand, which host the fight, don’t get out of control, so if you want to be in the heart of the action book a room there.
For other options, consider a hotel in the middle of the Strip. A central location will make it logistically easier to enjoy the city and the fight. High rollers should stay at Aria or the Cosmopolitan, while there are great mid-priced choices at the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Mirage, Palazzo, and the Venetian. While the Wynn is a nice property, its location at the north end of the strip will make commuting to the arean slightly harder.
It’s not the end of the world if you stay at a cheaper hotel like Flamingo or Bally’s, especially if you’re going to be throwing your money around over the weekend. The Hard Rock and Palms, both located off the strip, will inhibit your ability to get from place to place quickly.
Moving around Las Vegas during a busy weekend can be a nightmare, especially anytime after 6 p.m. Taxi lines will be out of control if the UFC fight is taking place during peak season. Be prepared to wait at least half an hour at any hotel taxi stand.
It might be beneficial to pay for a car service or limo and pre-arrange a pick-up and drop-off— but traffic on the Strip could even delay your car’s arrival.
Walk from venue to venue whenever possible. The monorail is also a good option to move around, especially since it ends at the MGM Grand stop.
Since you’re going to Las Vegas for a UFC fight, you might as well get some action on it.
There are plenty of great sportsbooks in town with the best options on the strip at Casears Palace, MGM Grand, and the Mirage. The Wynn also has a nice sportsbook if you’re looking for something slightly higher end and are staying nearby.
All the aforementioned sportsbooks have plenty of TVs, tellers, and seating to serve your needs. There will also be some sportsbooks that show closed circuit telecasts of the fight. Given the projected pay-per-view prices of UFC fights, any showing of the fight will likely have a high price tag to enjoy the action, but it’s a nice alternative to potentially paying thousands for tickets.
The afternoon pool party scene starts with a soft opening in March before a grand opening in April. They’ve become as big of a deal, if not a bigger deal, than the clubs at night by hosting the world’s best DJs throughout the year.
The best parties to check out are at Wet Republic at MGM Grand, which will likely be even more of a madhouse because of the fight taking place at the hotel, and Encore Beach Club at the Wynn. Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay and Marquee Day Club at the Cosmopolitan aren’t bad ideas either.
If you can afford it, lock down a daybed or a cabana so you'll have a home base. Use a VIP host to set up your cabana (or pay them something) to help avoid the long entry line. You can always get there early and just throw a towel down on the side of the pool to claim real estate, but it might take a while for the party to get going.
If you don’t know a VIP host, search on travel website message boards, like TripAdvisor.com, for contact information as the hosts can also set you up with a chair for a minimum spend if you want something in between a cabana and a towel by the side of the pool.
There are many great places to eat in Las Vegas, especially now that great restaurants from around the world have set up outposts. Prime Steakhouse is the best steakhouse in town, with SW Steakhouse not far behind. A meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is known to be a favorite of many foodies. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire is also highly regarded as the chef’s location in Paris has earned three Michelin stars. For fantastic Italian, head over to Lupo and Scarpetta.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy your food in Vegas. A great spot for pizza is 800 Degrees (originally out of California) and the Secret Pizzeria (hidden away on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan) is very good as well.
The best burgers in town can be found at The Barrymore, located just north of the Wynn, and at Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar. The Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is known for having some of the best fried-chicken in the country. And of course, we can’t forget the buffets, of which Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and Wynn have the best.
The club scene in Las Vegas is pushed by which DJs are playing that night. The scene is more or less a concert with the dancefloor containing people who just watch the stage the whole time. You still enjoy yourself, however, since the energy levels are always high. The best (and most expensive) clubs are Hakkasan, Marquee, and Omnia, because they get the best acts. All the clubs will be busy that weekend, so you’ll probably have fun wherever you end up.
Just remember—it is ideal to use a VIP host. Whether it be getting a table or skipping a line, spending the money towards a VIP host is a massive time and energy saver.
If you are looking for a regular bar, the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan is everyone’s favorite because of its design. Rojo at the Palms and Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay aren’t bad options either. Vesper and Petrossian Bar & Lounge offer some of the best upscale cocktails. Those into the beer scene can go to either 595 Craft Kitchen or Budweiser’s Beer Park to sample hundreds of beers.
Given that there are many places to enjoy alcohol in Vegas, you’ll enjoy yourself wherever you stumble to at night.