Originally founded 13 years ago, in July of 2014, Alaska Fighting Championship is Alaska’s most popular fighting entertainment featuring mixed martial arts events.
AFC has been around long enough that there are many seasoned competitors known to the organization, some who have even fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC veterans such as Jeremy Horn and Rich Franklin have even competed in AFC fights.
AFC is known globally for tough Alaskan men and women and their reputation of residing in the Last Frontier and battling out the tough elements to train.
However, as of July 2017, it was announced that the already suffering Sullivan Arena lost the headlines of the AFC events when the organization ended the 13-year agreement in order to transfer all their 2017/18 events to the increasingly popular Alaska Airlines Center.
The announcement of the change also came with the release of the schedule of events, as told by AFC owner Sarah Lorimer.
“With our recently signed deal, with the Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Pass deal, we want to up our game,” Lorimer said.
Fans and fighting enthusiasts will get many new perks with the new location. Free parking and better seats in the lower section of the arena, which gets fans closer to the action, are only part of the deal, but fans aren’t the only ones benefiting.
Anchorage resident and long time AFC fan, Zachary Langlais, couldn’t be more excited about the move.
“The Sullivan was always sufficient, I enjoyed the fights there but something about the Alaska Airlines Center makes the events more appealing,” Langlais said.
In addition, it could possibly even draw in new fans.
“I definitely think that the new location will attract more people. The location is much more convenient and being on campus I think that it will bring in a lot more college students to the event,” Langlais said.
Fighters also get the luxury of a recently brand new and updated facility, featuring a upgraded fighting cage and also the ability to watch other fights from the locker rooms and interpret how much time they have until their own fights.
In addition, the new cage boasts itself as a $30,000, 24-foot enclosure featuring a catwalk that encircles the entire exterior, allowing cameras to follow the fight from every angle.
Lormier also admitted that the Alaska Airlines Center’s digital signs and scoreboards are a definite plus.
Although the modernized facilities are definitely a plus for the MMA organization, they’re leaving behind a 13-year commitment, which isn’t always easy.
“It’s a proud moment. It’s a sad moment. It’s bittersweet. It’s like when you sell your childhood home, and that’s what it feels like, but the Alaska Airlines Center just made more sense,” said Lorimer.
As for the Sullivan Arena, the departure of the AFC is the latest financial blow to the facility, in addition to the loss of the Alaska Aces, Great Alaska Shootout and ASAA High School State Basketball tournament. All of those contributed to the recently announced operating losses of nearly $600,000 for 2016 for the Sullivan Arena.
Although Lorimer had a difficult time leaving the Sullivan Arena, especially in their time of need, she admitted that the benefits that the Alaska Airlines Center offered were too good to turn down.
Not all is lost as the Sullivan Arena will continue to earn revenue by hosting concerts, trade shows and community events like graduation ceremonies.
In addition, city development director Chris Schutte said that the proposition to upgrade the Sullivan Arena could bring it more attention.
“I think [Sullivan Mortgage Group is] going to do what they can to the fill the facility with new events,” Schutte said.
SMG and Anchorage Parks and Recreation department announced indoor turf, a 5,000 square foot storage building and 1,000 new chairs at the arena within the next year.
However, as some have feared, a potential for the Sullivan Arena being torn down and using the land for other potential is far from likely.
“It’s park land, so there’s not much that can be done with it.” Schutte said.
As for AFC events, the dates for the 2017/18 season are:
- AFC 133 Sept. 20, 2017
- AFC 134 Oct. 18, 2017
- AFC 135 Nov. 15, 2017
- AFC 136 Jan. 17, 2018
- AFC 137 Feb. 14, 2018
- AFC 138 March 28, 2018
- AFC 139 April 18, 2018
- AFC 140 May 16, 2018
Tickets for the fights went on sale on Aug. 1. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit www.alaskafighting.com