by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White is stepping up the speed at which he clones himself, masterminding a plan to take over the world with mixed martial arts.
At least, that’s how other fight promoters have to feel.
Four years ago, the UFC announced the hiring of Marshall Zelaznik to head its return into the U.K. And just two years ago, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta quit his “day job” at Station Casinos to become the full-time CEO of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Zelaznik has since morphed from the president of the U.K. division to a more sizable role as Managing Director of International Development, while Fertitta has proved a remarkable force in global expansion, quickly landing a partial ownership deal with a firm in Abu Dhabi, among other key areas.
White earlier this year named Tom Wright as the man to knock down doors in Canada, which he quickly did, helping to open Ontario up to mixed martial arts in 2011.
Saturday night, following UFC 118, White named the latest addition to the promotion’s global efforts, Mark Fischer, who will lead the charge in Asia.
A strong move into the Asian market opens up the possibility of airing the UFC’s product in more than 1 billion homes. That represents a tremendous amount of growth for the American based company. The U.S. has an estimated 115 million households.
Like White’s “big announcement” when Fertitta made the full-time move, the casual fan in America isn’t likely to jump up and take notice. Still, it’s a major move for the company, which has always had plans to make mixed martial arts, and its brand of it in particular, the biggest sport in the world.
This type of announcement falls into the behind the scenes category for most fans, but it opens up endless possibilities for the promotion, and exposes itself to fans when they see the influx of new talent from around the world.
Fischer was an executive with the NBA for 12 years, spending five or six of those years building the league’s program in China, so he’s got a leg up on dealing with the various aspects of doing business in Asia.
“As successful as the NBA was there… I think we can do just much with the UFC and more,” Fischer said when he was introduced at the UFC 118 post-fight press conference as the new Managing Director of UFC Asia.
He added that there are numerous markets in Asia that the UFC has a strong interest in. Obviously China and Japan, but also Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia.
White has lately stated that they would like to return to Brazil at around the same time or before the Summer Olympics takes place there in 2016.
So the next question is when does the Brazilian version of Dana White come to the fore?