The international expansion of The Ultimate Fighter series is set to continue in 2013 with India being the next destination on the list.
The UFC announced the news at a press conference in Mumbai, while also unveiling a new television deal with SONY SIX Networks which will deliver live events, the TUF India season and other UFC-related shows.
“SIX’s willingness to step up and commit to the Ultimate Fighter India was very important to us,” Lorenzo Fertitta stated in a press release. “TUF India will help to introduce the sport in India, to showcase the hard work, dedication, athleticism and skills needed to compete in the UFC. It will also cast a spotlight throughout the country, searching for the most talented local martial artists.
“The UFC will be successful in India even without local stars, but what we’ve seen around the world is fans really want to see one of their own get a chance to compete at the highest level. Somewhere out there in a country of 1.2 billion there is a Indian champion, someone who will capture the imagination of the fans and help take the sport to a whole new level.”
TUF: India follows on from a successful season of the show in Brazil, and the Australia Vs UK version which gets underway this weekend.
Unlike those destinations, India is a completely new territory for the UFC. That doesn’t mean it’s a completely untapped market however, as the Indian based Super Fight League promotion launched last year and has hosted a few events while attempting to get a reality-based TV show of their own off the ground.
However, there’s been rumors that SFL have been struggling for some time and yesterday their CEO, renowned MMA manager Ken Pavia announced that he was stepping down from his position and leaving the company for personal reasons.
The UFC is a whole other ball game though and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact they can make in the region.