SAN JOSE, CALIF. — After nearly three years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Nashville.
Dana White, co-owner and president of the world's largest mixed martial arts organization, confirmed to The City Paper on Saturday after the UFC 139 pay-per-view in San Jose, Calif., that the promotion would host a January card in Nashville.
Though White would not confirm full details, the show, which is expected to take place Jan. 20 at Bridgestone Arena, is likely to be the UFC's television debut on the FX cable channel. Sources close to the promotion said negotiations are not complete.
In August, the UFC signed a seven-year network broadcast deal with Fox, which owns FX.
The UFC last hosted a show in Nashville in April 2009 at Bridgestone, then the Sommet Center. Later that year, it made a stop in Memphis. Those two fight cards are the promotion's only trips to Tennessee.
The April 2009 show — UFC Fight Night 18 — drew more than 10,000 fans and a reported gate in excess of $600,000. At the time, the attendance was a UFC record for a non-pay-per-view show.
Though the Las Vegas-based company has yet to make official the date or venue for the FX show, it has announced three fights for the card, including the main event.
Headlining will be a pair of recent lightweight (155 pounds) contenders, Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller, looking to get back on track following losses.
Guillard (29-9-2, 1 NC), a New Orleans native, had a five-fight winning streak snapped last month in an upset loss to Joe Lauzon in Houston. Guillard got his UFC start on the company's popular reality series "The Ultimate Fighter," which in the spring will move from Spike to FX as part of the network deal with Fox.
Miller (20-3), of Whippany, N.J., had a seven-fight streak halted by Ben Henderson in August. Miller likely would have gotten a title shot with a win. Instead, Henderson pulled the upset, then went on to beat Clay Guida earlier this month and will fight champion Frankie Edgar for the title in February in Japan.
In 2011, the UFC will hold 27 total events, including pay-per-views and free "Fight Night" television cards on the Spike and Versus cable stations like the one the Nashville show is expected to be on FX.
White has said he expects the promotion to hold as many as 32 in 2012.
In its 18-year history, the UFC has held events in 30 states, plus the District of Columbia, and nine countries outside the U.S., including the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Australia.