In the last few years, the UFC has been on a torrid pace of rapid international expansion. Not only has the company’s hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter expanded into the U.K., Australia and South America, plans for Asia and eastern Europe continue to gain momentum.
With the UFC putting on shows in seemingly every corner of the globe, the international monster that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship is showing little signs of slowing down. On Saturday evening, after another successful show in the U.K., UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England, the UFC’s Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Garry Cook took to the post-fight podium to talk about the company’s ever-expanding foray into the international market.
“This last week, as you well know, we’ve been talking about growing the business, developing the amount of fighters, (and) giving the fans more access to more fights,” said the former Nike executive. “Nothing has changed on that. When you have the fan base that we have – and you see it again here in Manchester – we’re never short of people who want to see great fighters. The demand is there, and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and Dana (White) manage all that.”
With the growing number of international fighters among the UFC ranks, expanding internationally has been a top priority for UFC brass for years. Things have been running smoothly, for the most part, and as Cook said, that trend should continue well into 2014.
“Actually, U.K. next year, we are looking at London, Ireland, Malmo (Sweden), Lodz in Poland, Istanbul in Turkey, Berlin…
“The question isn’t how many we say we can do. It’s how many we say we can’t do,” said Cook. “Because I’ve got five or six countries, cities, that want UFC. Because these are the guys the people want to see.”
Often times, the international cards get critiqued for not having enough “name brand” fighters. For Cook, these criticisms are not only unfounded, they’re unfair to the fighters who compete at the sport’s highest level.
“Dana always says to me people are tweeting about the card this or that – at the end of the day… the fighters have earned the right to be a UFC fighter,” said the executive with a hint of aggravation in his tone. “And that is good enough for any nation in this world, as far as I’m concerned.”
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