by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Since 2001, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has run the better part of their shows in Las Vegas, Nevada. Along the way, they took a couple of detours, most frequently in New Jersey and Connecticut, but as of late, they have started to push out beyond the normal hot spots, seeking out emerging markets for their product. That should come as no surprise as they have plans for more than 30 shows this year alone and that number is growing all the time.
In the past year, they have already expanded their reach to Sacramento, Anaheim and San Diego in California; Hollywood, Florida; and most recently to Columbus, Ohio. “We’re gonna start doing fights all over the country,” said UFC President Dana White on a recent edition of MMAWeekly Radio. “We’re going to Ohio, we’re gonna go to Texas, we’ve been in California… we’re looking to go over to all these new markets. We’re going to the UK. We’re gonna start traveling the show around a lot more.”
Of course, not every state in the U.S. has actually sanctioned mixed martial arts competition and the UFC has no plans to go where there is no sanctioning. Their way around that? Simple, just hire the Executive Director of the most influential athletic commission in the country and have him work on getting sanctioning not only in the places where the UFC wants to go, but even where they don’t.
When asked by radio host Damon Martin how close states like Illinois and Michigan – with cities like Chicago and Detroit – are to sanctioning, White responded, “We’re working on that. That’s why we hired Marc Ratner.” Ratner is the former Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and now works for the UFC.
“Our goal has always been to get this thing sanctioned in every state,” stated the UFC President. “We might never do a show in Idaho… But someone is doing a show in Idaho and one of the big concerns for us has always been when these rinky dink little shows go out there and not do all the things they’re supposed to be doing: medical testing, drug testing, etc., etc., and then somebody getting seriously hurt. That’s what we’ve always been worried about, so we want to make sure that this sport is sanctioned in every state.”
White continued, “I want states that I don’t even plan on going to, sanctioning mixed martial arts. We have a plan for this sport. We want this sport to grow and become legitimate worldwide. It takes a lot of work to get this done and believe me, we haven’t even begun. It’s gonna be a long hard battle for the rest of my life and as long as I’m involved in this sport.”