The UFC returned to a “sellout” crowd of 14,921 in the UK after nearly a 5 year absence. The last time they ran an event in the U.K. was UFC 38 at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002, where the attendance was around 5,000.
Not only has attendance changed a lot since then, but the show brought in 1.31 million pounds (around $2.6 million dollars) at the M.E.N. Arena. Even merchandise sales were among the best as Marshall Zelaznik, president of the UFC’s U.K. division, said that, “I’m also lead to believe that we broke every merchandise record. We sold more merchandise in the venue than any other event that’s ever been through here.” Needless to say, it is a new era for the UFC as they expand internationally.
So what is the next step for the UFC in Europe? When will the UFC enter other countries in the European Union? According to UFC president Dana White, they are still focusing on the U.K. for this year. The next show in Europe will be UFC 72 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After that, they’ll probably be back in London in September and according to White, “a couple more fights this year, then we’re gonna start mapping out a plan for Europe.”
There are also talks of doing The Ultimate Fighter U.K., as White said that he was in discussion this weekend to make it happen. He commented, “We’re talking to him (David Clark) about that right now. We’re talking about doing The Ultimate Fighter U.K. I was talking to him all night about it.” A deal isn’t done yet, but White seems confident, “Yeah, we’ll do it. It’s coming.”
When White was asked what the highlight of UFC 70 was for him. He responded that it was the fact of getting back into the U.K. and seeing the sold out crowd and their reaction to Michael Bisping.
But is Bisping ready for a title shot? Bisping said, “Once I get a bit of time, keep winning, do what I can. That’s [a title shot] what I want though.” Chances are good that Bisping could fight for the title in the U.K., but White feels he needs more experience, saying, “I don’t think anybody is too excited to fight Chuck Liddell these days.” Bisping responded, “I was going to say – I’m not.”