UFC in Las Vegas: Travel Guide for Attending MMA in Sin City

Things to Know When Going to Ultimate Fighting Championship Fights in Las Vegas

••• UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor. Steve Marcus / Getty Images Sport

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 in at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena in each year since 2010.  The best events generally sell out when the likes of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Holly Holm or Ronda Rousey.

The UFC hasn’t knocked off boxing as the biggest sporting event in Vegas, but it’s knocking on the door. At some point, you should head to Vegas to see this spectacle in person. The best option these days would be to see a match featuring Conor McGregor of the Irish fans that come to support him in person.

Tickets

There are multiple stages of primary market ticket sales for UFC pay-per-view fights in Las Vegas. Tickets generally go on sale one and a half months before the fight through Ticketmaster. Fans that pay for the Ultimate and Elite levels of UFC Fight Club membership 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. You have the most well-known option to grab tickets from StubHub and also ticket aggregators a website that aggregates all of the secondary ticket sites except StubHub) like SeatGeek and ‎TiqIQ.

StubHub won’t list tickets for the event until they’re actually sold through MGM in case you’re trying to somehow get tickets before the public on-sale.

Getting There

Getting to Las Vegas is pretty easy because of all the airlines that fly there from various cities around the country. Flight prices will be the most expensive during peak seasons for Vegas, which are the spring and the fall. Prices will only get worse as you get closer to the travel date, so make sure you book your airfare as far in advance as possible. Hipmunk (a travel aggregator) can help you find the flight hotel for your needs since it aggregates all your options.

You can also drive to Las Vegas from various cities on the West Coast. Los Angeles is under a four-hour drive from Vegas, while drivers can make it from Phoenix or San Diego in less than five hours. Those cities also offer bus service to Vegas, but it’s not recommended because of the length due to all the stops. You can also look into the idea of flying to one of those cities and driving from there if you don’t mind adding a few extra hours to your trip.

Where to Stay

Unlike with mega fights in boxing, rates at the MGM Grand, which is hosting the fight, don’t get out of control.

UFC fights are less of spectacle with the events and parties surrounding it compared to boxing, so not as many people come to town. That actually makes the event more enjoyable, manageable and affordable, which are all good things. The MGM Grand has the second most hotel rooms of any hotel in Vegas, so you can always look to stay there if you want to be in the heart of the action.

The whole city of Las Vegas is great, so you don’t necessarily need to stay where the fight is. You have plenty of other options to choose from. You want to be on the Strip if possible because it’s logistically easier to enjoy your trip. You’re best-suited stay at a hotel in the middle of the strip. High rollers should stay at Aria or the Cosmopolitan, but you’ll also enjoy yourself at Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Mirage, and the Palazzo, or the Venetian.

Wynn is a nice property too, but its location at the north end of the strip will make logistics slightly harder for you.

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 at other stuff over the weekend. The Hard Rock and Palms, both located off the strip, aren’t that great anymore and their locations will inhibit your ability to get from place to place. Wherever you stay, you can use Hipmunk (the travel aggregator) again to help with your hotels.

Getting Around

Moving around Las Vegas during a busy weekend can be a nightmare, especially from 6 p.m. on. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead when moving from one venue to another. Taxi lines will be out of control if the UFC fight is taking place during peak season so be prepared to wait at least half an hour. It might serve you well to pay for car service that you can pre-arrange timing-wise, but traffic on the Strip could even delay your car’s arrival. Walk from venue to venue whenever possible. The monorail is a good option to move around as well, especially since it ends at the MGM Grand stop.

Sportsbooks

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 to serve your needs. The best ones on the strip are at Casears Palace, MGM Grand, and Mirage. 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.

Pool Parties

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. The world’s best DJs are playing throughout the year, so check the event calendar in advance to see if someone you’re interested in seeing is playing. The best ones to check out are 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 WynnDaylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay and Marquee Day Club at the Cosmopolitan aren’t bad ideas either.

You’ll be best served locking down a daybed or a cabana if you can afford having a home base, but you can always get there early and throw a towel down on the side of the pool to claim real estate. Use a VIP host to set up your cabana or pay them something to help you avoid the long entry line. It’ll make your experience much more enjoyable.

If you don’t know someone, you can ask your friends or search message boards for reliable hosts. They can also look to 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.

Restaurants

There are many great places to eat in Las Vegas, especially now that great restaurants from around the world have looked to set up outposts there. Eater can give you a great idea of what to find between their “38 Essential Restaurants” and “24 Hottest Restaurants” lists for the area. As always I have some of my own opinions. Prime Steakhouse is the best steakhouse in town, with CarneVino and Country Club not far behind. My meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon might’ve been my favorite of any in recent years. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire is also highly regarded as the chef’s location in Paris has earned three Michelin stars. The best Italian in town can be enjoyed at numerous places including B & B Ristorante and Scarpetta.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy your food in Vegas. The best spots for pizza are 800 Degrees (originally out of California) and D.O.C.G. Enoteca (from Italian food guru Scott Conant). The 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 win, and at Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar. Just make sure you get to The Barrymore early because they only make 12 burgers a day. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar also recently opened and their Miami location is known for having some of the best fried chicken in the country. The pork po-boy at Table 10 by Emeril Lagasse is also worth a stop. And of course we can’t forget the buffets, of which Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and Wynn have the best.

Nightlife

Before we get to which clubs you’ll want to visit in Las Vegas, just remember that you’re best served using a VIP host for all of your needs. Whether it be getting a table or skipping a line, use them because spending the money in this area is always worth it. The club scene in Las Vegas is pushed these days 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 HakkasanMarquee, Omnia, and XS because they get the best acts. All the clubs will be busy that weekend, so you’ll probably have fun wherever you end up.

Given that the nightlife scene in Las Vegas is so club oriented, there aren’t that many great regular bars. The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan is everyone’s favorite because of its design. Ghostbar at the Palms and Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay aren’t bad options either. Bond and Petrossian Bar & Lounge offer some of the best upscale cocktails.Those into the beer scene can go to either Tag Lounge & Bar or Budweiser’s Beer Park to sample one of hundreds of beers. Given that there are many places to enjoy alcohol in Vegas, you’ll enjoy yourself wherever you stumble to at night.