The Ultimate Fighting Championship has announced a major expansion into the Middle East after entering into an exclusive partnership with FLASH Entertainment, the region’s foremost live entertainment producer and promoter, to deliver live UFC events as part of a two-year agreement.
The UFC will return to the Middle East on Friday, April 11, with UFC Fight Night 39 at Abu Dhabi’s entertainment hotspot Yas Island, for the second of six Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Fight Night events to take place in 2014. The partnership will see at least five regional events staged in the next two years.
The UFC will also work to bring the hit reality sports television show, The Ultimate Fighter to the region. This will give aspiring athletes the opportunity to develop and compete for a contract with the world’s fastest-growing sports organisation.
The UFC Fight Nights will join a roster of prestigious, world class sporting events that FLASH Entertainment has staged across the region including F1, FIFA Club World Cup and ATP Tennis.
Garry Cook, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of UFC EMEA, said: “This agreement is a major step in our strategic expansion across EMEA and, in particular, will see our audience grow dramatically across the region. There is a huge market for the UFC in the Middle East; the fans want live events and can now look forward to local tailored content in the region.
“FLASH Entertainment has worked with some of the biggest sports organisations and brands in the world and they are committed to a shared vision for delivering an unrivalled product in terms of excitement and production values to the Middle Eastern audience.”
John Lickrish, Chief Executive Officer at FLASH Entertainment, said: “FLASH Entertainment has been proud partners of the UFC for many years, stretching back to the historic UFC 112 event in Abu Dhabi in 2010. The announcement today heralds a bright future for the millions of fight fans and practitioners alike across the Middle East and North Africa, as we work together to develop a programme of year-round UFC events. We look forward to making further announcements very soon.”
The first EMEA event of 2014 takes place in London, England on Saturday, March 8. UFC Fight Night London 2014 will see Sweden’s light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson take on England’s undefeated Jimi Manuwa in the main event at the city’s O2 Arena.