Who Will Headline The First Boxing And UFC Matches At The Co-op Live Arena?

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Who Will Headline The First Boxing And UFC Matches At The Co-op Live Arena?

UFC is heading back to Manchester this year at the impressive-looking brand-new Co-op Live arena. 

The venue was due to open its doors for the first time on Tuesday night, when comedy legend Peter Kay was booked to entertain the 23,500 crowd with a historic night of comedy, before returning on Wednesday night. 

However, the Co-op Live arena was forced to reschedule the two shows, on April 23 and 24, to April 29 and 30 because the completion of the fully electric venue is "a few days behind". 

A message on Co-op Live's X account read: "An important update from Co-op Live. Following our first test event on Saturday, regretfully we have made the difficult decision to reschedule our two opening performances by Peter Kay. 

"These dates will move from 23 April and 24 Wednesday to Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April."

Despite this stumbling block, the arena - which is said to have cost £365m - has since ploughed ahead with future planning and confirmed its first-ever sporting event. 

UFC 304 will arrive at the venue on July 27, and as a result there has been plenty of speculation on betting sites about who might headline the event. 

Co-op Live Arena First UFC Headliner Odds

Tom Aspinall1/10
Leon Edwards6/4
Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett4/1
Molly McCann10/1
Ian Garry14/1
Michael Page20/1

Aspinall Heavy Favourite To Top UFC 304 Bill

Tom Aspinall is the heavy 1/10 favourite on new betting sites to headline the main event at UFC 304, while Leon Edwards is 6/4 second favourite, following comments made by UFC president and CEO Dana White. 

White explained: "I’m so excited to get back to Manchester. And no better time than this summer.

"We have two champions from the UK and fans have been dying for a UFC PPV event. So here we come to the largest indoor arena in the UK. See you soon, England!"

Current Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion and local Salford-born lad Aspinall is expected to defend his interim strap in a rematch with Curtis Blaydes, while UFC Welterweight Champion Edwards looks set to defend his title when he goes up against Belal Muhammad once again. 

Other UFC stars who are no strangers to the north west are Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett (4/1), who is from Huyton, and MMA star Molly McCann (10/1). 

Both look likely to feature on the main UFC 304 card when the event heads to Manchester. 

Co-op Live Arena First Boxing Headliner Odds

Tyson Fury4/6
Anthony JoshuaEvens
Tommy Fury2/1
Natasha Jonas5/2
Chris Eubank Jr3/1
Conor Benn4/1
Daniel Dubois6/1
Billy Joe Saunders7/1
Katie Taylor8/1
Savannah Marshall10/1

Fury Favourite For Co-op Clash 

With the first UFC event at the Co-op Live arena confirmed, a boxing bout surely isn't too far away either, and if there is a big fight to attend then Tyson Fury isn't usually far away. 

The local-born lad is the 4/6 favourite on specials betting sites to headline the first boxing bout at the new indoor entertainment venue, and his brother and fellow boxer Tommy Fury is 2/1 third favourite.

One fight that everyone is desperate to see is Tyson go up against Anthony Joshua. 

It has been billed as the "biggest fight in British boxing history", but it is yet to come to fruition.

While it looks unlikely to do so at the Co-op Live arena, with the Battle of Britain - as it has also been dubbed - more likely to take place in a bigger venue, Joshua is Evens to headline the first boxing match at Manchester's latest cauldron.

Another star who could fight there first is Liverpool local Natasha Jonas. 

The pro boxer retained her IBF welterweight crown over US fighter Mikaela Mayer at Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena in January, and she is looking for another fight. 

What's more, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn had their heydays in the 90s, but their sons could make history if either of them headline the first fight at Co-op Live. Chris Eubank Jr. is 3/1 to do so, and Conor Benn is a 4/1 chance.

Co-op Live Arena First Misfits Headliner Odds

Wayne Rooney4/5
Jake Paul11/8
Tony Bellew2/1
Ricky Hatton4/1
Harry Styles6/1
Katie Price8/1
AJ Bunker10/1
Elle Brooke12/1

Rooney's First Fight? 

While the Co-op Live arena is a short walk from Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney could soon be strolling through the blue half of Manchester for his first-ever boxing match. 

The former England captain recently admitted he has been in touch with Misfits Boxing - a crossover boxing promotion founded by YouTuber KSI - about a potential fight, and he is now just 4/5 on betting apps to headline the first Misfits bout at Co-op Live.

There have been rumours that Rooney could face YouTuber Jake Paul in the ring, and Paul is 11/8 to fight first at Co-op Live.

Retired pro boxers Tony Bellew (2/1) and Ricky Hatton (4/1), who is a huge Manchester City fan, are also thought to be in the mix for a Misfits match, as is KSI (5/1). 

With Watermelon Sugar singer and Manchester United fan Styles being an investor in Co-op Live, some have speculated he might perform at the venue one day - but could he headline the first Misfits bout? 

He is 6/1 to do so, and last month a story in The Sun newspaper, which claimed Harry had joined an elite boxing club, where he has been "really pushing himself," fuelled such speculation. 

Manchester's new arena will become the largest indoor entertainment venue in the UK when it opens, and it looks set to house some historic sporting fixtures.

* Reminder: These are hypothetical odds provided by industry experts.

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James Leyfield

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