by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
“I knew when the AFL and the NFL got together what a big thing it was, but in Mixed Martial Arts… this is that big,” UFC Vice President Marc Ratner recently said on MMAWeekly Radio when asked about Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta’s recent acquisition of PrideFC.
Since the Fertittas’ purchase of Pride, Marc Ratner has been on a country-to-country tear. He’s gone to and from Vegas, Houston, Japan, and England to work with sanctioning bodies in each of those places, and said of it, “There’s no end in sight.”
Ratner is not working only to get MMA sanctioned in each of these different venues, but also to unify a set of standard rules for organizations to use regardless of what country a fight is held in.
While the unification of Pride and UFC fighters is nearly every fight fan’s dream come true, the merger does generate some confusion as to how Pride fighters will adjust to the unified rules of the U.S. athletic commissions.
After all, Pride veterans are accustomed to being allowed to knee to the head while on the ground and aren’t accustomed to being elbowed in the face from any position. These changes may seem relatively insignificant at first, but the difference in rules might cause drastic changes to some particular fighters’ conventional strategies. Ratner doesn’t seem to think that the rule changes will be too detrimental for the Pride guys, however.
Marc said, “It’s going to be a chance for the Pride fighters. They’re really going to have to learn, but these guys are all professionals. They’ve fought a lot of different ways and they’ll pick it up with no problem.”
Back to the topic of the UFC traveling to new places, their most recent show was held in Columbus, Ohio, and was a huge success. The attendance in Columbus’s Nationwide Arena was a United States MMA record 19,000+ people.
Ratner put a lot of hard work to get the UFC to Ohio for UFC 68 and said of the outcome, “I was very, very, very pleased.”
The UFC’s next PPV will take place on April 7th in Houston, Texas. This will be the UFC’s first show in Texas and Ratner expects it to go down in true Texas fashion…big.
Ratner said, “We’ve already sold, I think, close to 12,000 tickets…about $2.6 million in ticket sales. There’s just a smattering of tickets left…the arena there is not quite as big as the Nationwide, but it will be sold out.”
Now that the UFC is moving around so much, one has to wonder, when will they have time for Vegas?
“I think that Vegas will always be our home. There’s no question about that. We’ll do four major shows a year – I would think – and we’ll have some of the Palm shows with our Ultimate Fight Nights. But, I’m a very big believer in moving our show around,” Ratner said.
Marc continued, “When you go to a different arena like Columbus or like Houston the fans are so excited to finally see the show that they’ve been watching on television in person, that they just buy the tickets early, they buy a lot of merchandise, and then the next time that there’s a show on Pay-Per-View, once they’ve seen it in person they want to buy that too. So, it’s big business for us to move the show around, but Vegas will always be our home.”
No matter where the UFC chooses to reside, at least one thing remains certain. “It’s going to be a wonderful time for the fans and for the sport itself,” Ratner said.