by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White has never been shy about revealing a broad overview of his business plans for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It can be summed up in two simple words: world domination.
“We’re going to be everywhere man,” White recently said matter-of-factly to MMAWeekly.com. “We’re going to be all over the world. We’re going to be everywhere. The sport isn’t going backwards. We’re going forward. We’re getting bigger.”
Zuffa also owns World Extreme Cagefighting, an organization that showcases mixed martial arts’ lighter weight classes and airs on the Versus network.
Any general knows you cannot embark on an international campaign without support on the home front. In March of 2006, Marc Ratner resigned from the Nevada State Athletic Commission where he was executive director to take a position within Zuffa and has been instrumental in the Las Vegas-based company’s expansion in the U.S. He spearheads the effort to get mixed martial arts sanctioned in states where it’s not.
In 2008, the UFC took the trademarked Octagon to eight different U.S. cities: Las Vegas, Columbus, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Omaha, Chicago, and Fayetteville. This year, they’ve put on events in Las Vegas, Columbus, Nashville, Tampa and have shows scheduled in Philadelphia, Portland, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Los Angeles.
And that’s not to mention Montreal, Cologne, and Manchester in the foreign markets.
Zuffa has pushed hard to bring their product to New York, but thus far America’s largest city has eluded them. Progress is being made and White is confident that opening New York will come to fruition.
“We’re going to be in New York. It’s going to happen,” he stated prior to UFC 100 in Las Vegas.
On the international front, Zuffa has signed multiple television deals in various countries throughout the world over the last two years including Goboset in Brazil, TELESPORT, one of the largest sports networks in Romania, and returned to Japanese television with WOWOW.
Just prior to UFC 100 that took place on July 11, Zuffa secured a television deal with the Mexican network Grupo Televisa broadening their reach to 100 million potential viewers in Mexico and aired UFC 100 for free.
“I’ve said for years that we would love to bring the UFC to Mexico. Some of the greatest fighters in history are from Mexico, and the fans there are among the most passionate and loyal in all of sports,” said White when the deal was inked.
“We’ve always known it would be a huge market for us,” he commented on July 10. “We’ll continue to show UFC programming there just like we did here in the United States and then we’re bringing the live events down to Mexico. And it’s about time. I’m really excited about it.”
With the European invasion in full swing, Zuffa turns its attention to Asia.
“There’s over 240 million people in China,” pointed out White. “China is big for us too.”
Often lost in the background, but of no small import to the promotion’s plans to spread its brand of mixed martial arts across the world, was last year’s addition of co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He left his post at his family’s Station Casinos to take up residence full-time at Zuffa.
“I’ve been one guy trying to get this thing going for eight years,” commented White. “Lorenzo came on board a year ago and Lorenzo’s job and his initiative was the global. We’re in 75 countries for UFC 100. That’s what he’s done.
“People don’t realize what a big deal it is that he left Stations and came to the UFC.”
To clarify, that is UFC 100 aired LIVE in 75 countries around the world. Just how big of an increase is that from when Fertitta climbed on board full time?
“Like 75!” laughs White. “We weren’t doing anything live in these other countries (before Fertitta). We were in 175 different countries in some form of television, but we weren’t beaming anything live.
“Life didn’t become easier, but what I said was, you don’t realize what’s gonna happen when he comes on board because now there’s two of us,” explained White.
“This is just one year. Where are we gonna be in three years? I kept saying wait till you see what we do in the next 10 years. We’ll be the biggest sport in the world. The reason I said 10 years is because I know the next 10 years is gonna be a lot easier than the last 10 years were. It might be three years. It might be a year and a half. I don’t know now. It’s going so fast, I don’t know now.”
The age of Zuffa imperialism is upon us, and while determined to take over Earth, the UFC president has stopped short of proclaiming they’ll land on the moon by the end of the decade.
Today, UFC programming can be seen in over 100 countries and territories worldwide in 17 different languages. To White, it’s simple. “It’s about reaching as many people as you possibly can with a product you know they’re going to love.”