Turki Alalshikh, chair of the general entertainment authority (GEA) of Saudi Arabia, has announced the renewal and expansion of the partnership between the country’s Riyadh Season sports and entertainment festival, and global mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The renewed deal, covering 2024 and 2025, will see another UFC event staged in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following up the promotion’s inaugural event in the country on June 22 this year.

UFC will also bring a first event from its PowerSlap competitive slapping property, owned by UFC chief executive and president Dana White, to Saudi as part of the expanded event commitment.

Riyadh Season will also serve as a sponsor of the upcoming UFC 306 top-line event in order to promote the sports festival, which runs annually from October through to the following March.

UFC 306 will be the first event hosted at the Sphere venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, and as one of the promotion’s top-line chronologically numbered events, it will be among the most visible advertising slots for Riyadh Season.

The potential for major interest growth in Riyadh season through the UFC is a seeming driver behind the extended partnership, with Alalshikh stating: “UFC is the most prominent mixed martial arts organization in the world and their platform of global fans is unrivaled.”

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Speaking on the extended partnership itself, Alalshikh added: “This agreement is a continuation of Riyadh Season’s aims to host and partner with prominent and international events of mass interest.

“It also enhances our efforts for Riyadh Season to produce diverse content in order to engage and attract an even wider audience with different interests from around the world.”

Since its foundation in 2019, Riyadh Season has predominantly featured, and been dominated by, major cards from the sport of boxing, most recently hosting the high-profile crossover bout between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou in March.

In announcing the renewed UFC tie-up, Alalshikh also spoke on a prospective new announcement with pro-wrestling promotion WWE to keep events coming to the country.

WWE, owned by Endeavor’s TKO Group (which also owns UFC) has hosted events in Saudi Arabia annually since 2018, and speaking to US sports network ESPN, Alalshikh said that a renewed partnership with WWE should be announced later in May, and that Saudi is exploring hosting one of its four primary premium live events, namely January’s annual Royal Rumble or the company’s headline annual event, Wrestlemania.

Later in May Saudi will host the WWE’s King and Queen of the Ring annual event in Jeddah, and although its not one of the promotion’s four major annual events it is still likely to be a popular spectacle.