MMA fights have become more popular in Iowa than ever before and in the last few years, the state has hosted more events than many other states. Besides, Iowa is famous for being the home of some fine UFC stars.
It’s arguably overtaken boxing in popularity and some people put this growth down to the traditional popularity of wrestling in Iowa. So what are the best places to find MMA fights in the state?
Mason City in North Iowa has a population of just over 27,000 but it has established itself in recent times as possibly the state’s top MMA venue.
The first event of this year came on May 21, with the North Iowa Fights promotions and the Mason City Fight Team put together by the promoter and former fighter Mike Estus. On that occasion, Leo Kuntz won his battle against Eddie Larrea in the main event. This came when he forced a submission with a rear-naked choke early in the fight.
That was NIF MMA 13, and since then we’ve seen number 14 in July and then the 15th edition in November. This final event saw Anthony Kellen beat local fighter Austin Robinson with a rear-naked choke that forced a submission in the second round.
Mason City Arena is classed as North Iowa’s biggest entertainment venue, with a capacity of 4,200. The Mohawk hockey teams play here, as well as the North Iowa Bulls and Toros. As well as MMA fights, it also hosts concerts, trade shows, and other sporting events throughout the year.
As for the fighters, those based here, like Mark Currier and Andy Guillen, get to train with Brazilian UFC flyweight Carlos Mota in the build-up to the events. Some of them live together and while the facilities are still growing and improving, there’s no doubting the desire in Mason City to make this the Midwest capital of MMA.
I'm going to Mason City, Iowa to fight for North Iowa Fights MMA 🏆🔥🌎
— Carlos mota tizil (@mota_tizil) May 15, 2022
The Winnavegas Casino Resort in Sloan was the setting for the recent Legacy Fighting Alliance’s LFA 147 event where Melquizael Costa defeated Junior Melo in the main event. This lightweight showdown that pitted the two Brazilians against each other marked the return of the LFA to Iowa for their second event, while Sloan has held other fights in the past.
The quality of the fighters in this event showed that Sloan could be set to become another major venue. LFA 147 saw Iowa-based female fighter Helen Peralta beat Aline Pereira, making her MMA debut, thanks to a unanimous decision after three tough rounds. This was the first time that Peralta had fought in her home state.
Part of Sioux County, Sloan has a population of just over 1,000 residents but the presence of the casino operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska means that it works as an MMA venue. It’s not yet known when the next big event will take place here but it’s already made its mark as a solid fight venue.
The City of Five Seasons is also carving out a good reputation as a venue for MMA fights. It’s hosted Bellator events in the past, at venues such as DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex.
This is also the home of Down To Fight MMA studio where kickboxing and regular boxing are carried out in the gym. Charles Mendoza is one of the fighters based here, although he’s lost his last three bouts stretching back over the last couple of years.
B2 Digital prepares for another fight once again with the #B2FightingSeries Pinnacle Combat this Sat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2021 could not be more exciting for $BTDG with revenues climbing, One More Gym acquisitions & non stop Live #PPV MMA events! More info on the way! pic.twitter.com/2jyNyOhItJ
— B2 Digital (@b2digitalotc) March 10, 2021
The capital and most heavily populated city in Iowa also has an interesting MMA scene right now, with several gyms offering the chance to train in this sport, such as the Iowa Martial Arts & Wellness Center and the Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
An example of the fighters based in this city comes from the Des Moines MMA Elite Squad, which is the team that trains at Porcelli’s Training Center. Their site provides details of kids’ tournaments held in Iowa and elsewhere.
In Clive, TheFightsSeries has an event lined up for December 10 this year, at the city’s Horizon Events Center. This venue hosts a variety of events throughout the year, with wrestling, soccer and music concerts.
Male and female fighters will be taking part, with the main event featuring Chris Kingery against Spencer Wray. Wray’s last fight was a loss to Jesse Hannam back in 2019, while Kingery lost to Matt Ryan earlier this year in his last fight.
How to Watch MMA Fights on TV
As we’ve seen, it’s possible to catch a live MMA bout in different parts of Iowa, with fights taking place throughout the year. However, you might want to see some fights on TV while you’re waiting for the next live event to take place in the state.
In this case, the first point to note is that MMA fights take place year-round and in different locations. This means there’s something for you to watch most months of the year. However, since the sport is divided into different groups like UFC and Bellator, you can’t rely on a single channel to catch all the action.
ESPN for UFC
The best-known MMA promotions company is called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It’s based out of Las Vegas but their fights take place in different cities around the planet. They have a total of eight weight divisions, with eight of those covering the male category and four for women.
The UFC events can only be viewed on ESPN, which is found on many different cable and satellite services and can also be seen through subscribing to a streaming service. There have been over 600 UFC events held since they began in 1993, up until 2022.
At the time of writing, a look at the UFC fight schedule on the ESPN website reveals several events lined up for the end of 2022. These include UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Holland on December 3 in Orland, UFC 282: Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev on December 10 in Las Vegas, and UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Strickland on December 17, also in Las Vegas.
SHOWTIME for Bellator
A newer option on the MMA scene, Bellator has been around since 2008 and is a subsidiary of Paramount Global. Still regarded as second in size and importance after the UFC, Bellator has run more than 200 events to date.
Bellator 288: Nemkov vs. Anderson 2 was recently completed and fans are now looking forward to Bellator 289: Stots vs. Sabatello on December 9 and then Bellator MMA vs. Rizin on December 31.
As with the UFC fights, you can’t get Bellator events without cable, satellite, or a streaming option. That’s because these bouts are shown exclusively on the SHOWTIME channel.
If you want to see both UFC and Bellator events, you’ll need to look for a provider that has ESPN as well as SHOWTIME. When streaming, you could look at options such as FuboTV. The Pro package gives you access to the UFC fights on ESPN, plus a huge range of other sports channels. This costs $69.99 just now, but you’ll need to add on the SHOWTIME channel for an extra $10.99 per month.
ESPN and SHOWTIME can be found together on packages from YouTube TV, Sling, and Hulu+ too. The prices tend to be pretty similar, so it’s a good idea to check other important factors such as the details of what other channels in the package you might be interested in viewing.
Another option involves the stand-alone ESPN+ streaming service, which has a monthly cost of $9.99. This gives you the fight, news, and other MMA material. However, this doesn’t include any of the pay-per-view events, which you’ll need to pay for separately.
The UFC Fight Pass is another app that costs $9.99 per year, but it can also be purchased for an annual cost of $95.99. It gives UFC and general MMA content that varies from the ESPN+ app. This means that you can watch classic fights or listen to in-depth analyses using it.
You can also choose SHOWTIME as a stand-alone streaming app if you don’t want a full sports package. At a monthly price of $10.99, it provides fans with more than 40 live Bellator and boxing fight nights each year. It can also be added to the Paramount+ service for an extra $1.
Cable and Satellite
It’s worth pointing out that the SHOWTIME channel isn’t as widely available on cable and satellite service as ESPN. Often it needs to be added on as an extra to a package.
However, there’s also the option of watching preliminary Bellator events that are shown for free on the exclusive Bellator MMA channel that’s found on Pluto TV, which also shows old Bellator fights.
In addition, the packages that include these channels are often at the higher end of the price scale, so you’re unlikely to find ESPN and SHOWTIME on a lower-priced package.
There’s nothing quite like watching an MMA fight live, and the growth of this sport in Iowa means that there are likely to be more opportunities to do so in the future.
There are also a number of different ways of watching fight nights live on your TV or another streaming device, so finding an approach that’s perfect for you shouldn’t be too difficult.