The UFC has today announced a major new television deal in Russia with one of the countries biggest networks, VGTRK which includes channels like Russia 2, Sport 1, Fight Club and the website Sportbox.ru.
Russia has been one of the big untapped markets for the promotion over the years with over 140 million people living there and a deal like this should help lay the groundwork for the country to become a destination for live events in the future.
“Russia is firmly on our target list as a focal point of MMA within Europe with a fantastic fan-base and great UFC fighters,” the UFC’s new General Manager of UFC EMEA Dave Allen stated. “VGTRK have an impressive background in sport across all of their outlets and their experience and knowledge is evident, we are thrilled to partner with them and look forward to satisfying demand for the UFC and propelling the sport within Russia together.”
Alexander Taschin, Head of sports broadcasting of VGTRK, was equally pleased to have sealed this deal.
“Martial arts are traditionally very important for our company. We followed the success of the UFC and have noticed a growing interest of the audience in the country, which we expect is due partly to the 20 Russian fighters who participate in UFC championship. UFC offered high-quality content to us and the package of more than 40 events will be a perfect addition to the sports portfolio of VGTRK this year.”
Russian fighters have been making their impression felt in the UFC in recent years with a number of them breaking into the rankings in their respective divisions, such as No.2 ranked lightweight standout Khabib Nurmagomedov and recent flyweight title challenger Ali Bagautinov.
The new TV deal begins this weekend with UFC On FOX 14 airing live from Sweden with three Russian fighters set to compete on the undercard.