by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
The road show that’s been the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s strategy as of late will continue to cross borders, according to UFC president Dana White.
At the post-fight press conference for UFC 87 in Minneapolis, White made some broad sketches of the future pins in the UFC’s travel map.
First on that list was a stop in the Philippines, which currently airs UFC fights. It’s also the native land of newly minted light heavyweight Brandon Vera, who counts president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo among his fans.
White also re-affirmed an anticipated trip to Mexico, in which several UFC fighters, including Roger Huerta, Eddie Sanchez, and Diego Sanchez, have ethnic roots.
“When I say we’re going everywhere, I mean we’re going everywhere,” White said.
Canada is also a high priority for Zuffa, LLC. Georges St. Pierre’s rematch with Matt Serra at UFC 83 was a smashing success, drawing the largest MMA crowd ever in North America. Since then, White said the company wants to expand its reach in the U.S.’s northern neighbor. “We’re really focusing on opening up Canada,” he continued. “Canada has become a really big market for us. We didn’t expect that.”
On the home front, White says the UFC is still focusing on getting sanctioning in Massachusetts and New York. As of yet, neither state regulates MMA.
In Massachusetts, legislation to regulate the sport was left out of the 2009 state budget proposal, according to a report in The Boston Globe. State Senator James E. Timilty, who authored the bill, will not be able to re-introduce new legislation until December, making it highly unlikely that Bostonians will see the UFC in their backyard for most of 2009.
Though White anticipated an early 2009 appearance for the UFC in New York, a similar scenario exists for the Empire State. State Assembly Bill 1-11458-A, which would legalize MMA in New York, did not pass in the June session and would not be up for another vote until January of 2009.
While there’s no doubt UFC employees will be putting a few more stamps on their passports, not every city has welcomed them. Still, the ones who have, like Minneapolis, were a pleasant surprise for White. “I can’t tell you how much I like this place,” he told reporters. “I’ve been having too much fun. I gotta get the hell out of here or I’m going to die.”