Ticket sales are still restricted to those 18 and over, and the UFC’s German television deal is mired in litigation.
“Our TV situation with DSF, which is now Sports1, was affected by a ruling by the regulatory agency. We’re in a dispute right now with them. There is a lawsuit pending,” said UFC Managing Director of International Development Marshall Zelaznik.
What really made the promotion’s German debut at UFC 99 in Cologne difficult was the outdated media outcries and misconceptions about the sport in general. Questions were raised about the UFC returning to Germany, but the promotion has been steadfast when opening up new markets.
“The Cologne event was in June of last year. We expected to be back in Germany this year and we’re here,” Zelaznik declared. “That event was a massive success. We experienced some media outcry about the event prior to it; however, post-event the media seemed to turn.”
To bring down the walls in the German market, the UFC enlisted the help of local promoter Marek Lieberberg. He has promoted many of the largest musical acts and other notable events in Germany, and has quickly become a champion of mixed martial arts in his homeland.
Lieberberg says that despite the negativity that some threw the UFC’s way in Cologne, the promotion made it difficult for anyone to criticize them after UFC 99 went off without a hitch.
“There was no controversy whatsoever regarding UFC 122, neither politically nor elsewhere. There was a deafening silence to that respect. I think they run out of arguments, quite frankly,” he stated on Thursday.
“There was an official report ordered by the city of Cologne (for UFC 99). That report was nothing but an A-plus for UFC in every respect, health issues, sports, fighting, how the event was staged. It was full of praise by the independent reporter on behalf of the city. So I think that threw out a lot of polemic arguments against UFC.”
Lieberberg obviously has a vested financial interest in the UFC’s success in Germany, but Zelaznik’s introduction of him at the UFC 122 prefight press conference heaped praise on the event’s co-promoter, specifically pointing to his passion for mixed martial arts.
Lieberberg certainly sounded sincere in addressing the future of the sport in his country.
“Hopefully UFC 122 is just another stepping board to this becoming something more regular and normal.”