by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship over the past year has made a significant move into the U.K. The promotion followed that up with a successful debut last month in Montreal where UFC 83 raked in a $5.2 million live gate.
“The Montreal event was big all the way around,” said UFC president Dana White. “We broke records with the venue. I think we broke every record in the venue’s history. Pay-per-views went very well, everything was good.”
It’s no surprise then that with all the success the promotion has had in expanding not only into new states across the U.S., but also in moving into the U.K. and Canada, the UFC will soon be setting up the Octagon in even more countries around the world. Next on the list is Germany.
In a media conference call on Thursday, White was asked of the promotion’s interest in France. He glossed over France heading straight to its neighbor to the North and a few other locals.
“We’re focused on Germany, the Philippines, and Australia next,” he stated.
Pressed by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports about a rumored location in Berlin, White said that it wasn’t a done deal yet. “We’re working on it right now,” he said, adding, “Germany is what we’re looking at next.”
White did not disclose a specific time frame for the move into Germany. He didn’t offer any details on the Philippines or Australia either, but did reinforce the UFC’s intent to promote in both locations.
“The Philippines is definitely happening, we’re working on that right now, Australia and Germany, those three are right now,” he stated. “And now we’re starting to focus on doing something in Brazil.”
Details on Brazil are far more sparse even than White’s secrecy on Germany. “Probably about three weeks ago, I did an interview and I said, ‘You know what? Brazil isn’t even on our radar right now.’ And that’s changed actually in the last three weeks. We’re seriously looking at Brazil right now because there’s a lot of interesting economical things going on down there right now.”
The plans to expand into Germany, the Philippines and Australia only serve to back White’s statements earlier this year, when he stated that the UFC and mixed martial arts in general are global in scope.
On Thursday, White once again used his comparison of the NFL’s troubled attempts to expand its sport into Europe to explain why he thinks that MMA will succeed.
As he said in January of this year, “Look at the NFL. There’s nothing bigger in this country than the NFL. They’ve been spending billions of dollars trying to break into Europe and they can’t do it, because nobody gives a (expletive) about football in Europe. They didn’t grow up playing football, they don’t know about it.
“I take two guys and put them in the Octagon and they can use any martial art they want. It translates through all different cultural barriers, language barriers… people love fighting.”
He continued, “I think that this thing can be global. I think that this thing can be the biggest sport in the world. I already know it’s the most exciting sport in the world.”