Europe was the target for a number of the UFC’s first footsteps outside of North America during the last decade, with England, Ireland and Germany all playing host to major events, but recently it’s other destinations around the globe such as Brazil, Australia and most recently Japan that appear to have been the major focus of the organization.
The balance will be somewhat addressed next month when Sweden hosts ‘UFC On Fuel TV 2’ next month, but according to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta they also have their eye on several other notable European destinations in the future – Italy, France and Spain.
Here’s the key points Fertitta makes about each region in a new interview with MMAfighting.
– Fertitta thinks Italy is likely to be the next European country that they will move into. If it does happen it’ll probably in 2013 though.
– There’s really one arena that could house a major UFC event, and that’s just outside of Milan.
– Meetings have already taken place with representative there, and despite initial reservations they are now eager for the UFC to hold an event there.
– A new Italian promotion Oktagon has already sold 15,000 tickets for their first MMA event which Fertitta sees as an encouraging sign that they are ready for a major promotion like the UFC.
– Another positive is that the UFC struck a television deal with Sky Sports in Italy aprox 6 months ago and ratings have steadily increased since then.
– ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is now airing in Spain and the latest figures he has show that the ratings for it continue to go up and it’s now watched by over 250,000 people.
– Fertitta is pleased by those ratings given the size of the market, and as such Spain is also now on their radar for a future UFC event.
– Fertitta describes France as potentially a “massive opportunity” for the UFC.
– The UFC has had dialogue with France’s Sport’s Ministry regarding the possibility of the region hosting an event like the UFC and they have been encouraged by how that’s gone so far.
– The Ministry appear to be fine with holding MMA events providing there is a federation established to oversee the rules and regulations of the sport there.
– The current French Sports Minister is an ex-Judo gold medalist so he has a good feel for what the sport is all about.
– As such France is another destination that Fertitta is confident that the UFC will be visiting at some stage in the future, though like Spain he gives no timeframe for it.