The UFC’s UK President Marshall Zelaznik has revealed that UFC 120 at the O2 Arena in London is set to become another milestone for the company, breaking their previous European records for both attendance and gate receipts.
The previous record had been set at UFC 105: Couture Vs Vera last year in Manchester, but despite some criticism over the line-up for October 16th’s event, UK fans have been snapping up tickets in record numbers.
“I think it’s a testament to how big the UFC is getting here in Europe and the U.K.,” Zelaznik said at a media conference for the event today, revealing that extra seat have now been added to the arena to help meet demand.
It’s hard to argue with him. Consider the fact that three years ago at UFC 75 the company drew an audience of 16,235 by bringing an action packed show to the 02 Arena featuring a major title unification bout between former PRIDE stars Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Dan Henderson with Mirko Cro Cop and Michael Bisping amongst the supporting cast.
Fast forward back to the present and a much less meaningful non-title fight between Michael Bisping and Yoshihiro Akiyama and a largely UK supporting cast at the same arena is set to smash through the current 16,693 European attendance and $2.7 million gate records.
In many ways it’s a testament to the way the UFC has been able to push through and promote UK talent like Bisping and Dan Hardy to the point where British fans will now willingly pay to see them fight as readily as they would for big name international stars.
I think the fact that this is the only UFC event of the year to land on UK shores also has something to do with the clamor for tickets though.
Overall it’s good news for the UFC, but they should be careful not to rest on their laurels. Despite the strong showing for this event there is still a hunger for big names stars and title fights here and so there’s definitely a balance to be struck if they want to maintain the fans enthusiasm in the longer term.