Is UFC Russia-Bound?
By Michael Hatamoto
UFC President Dana White would like to host an event in Russia, but needs to visit the country with Lorenzo Fertitta and research what cities and venues would be suitable.
There is no scheduled visit set for Russia yet, but it’s something that I will follow closely.
Here is what White said following UFC 164 on Saturday night:
“We’ve got to go there first. We’re going to talk to the right people and we’re going to figure whether we’re going to do this or not.”
I think hosting an event in Russia would be a great idea for the UFC, because it would generate a larger fan base in a market that enjoys combat sports.
Also, it could help give a new pathway to Russian and other Eastern European fighters looking to get out of Europe. Both Russian-based M-1 MMA and Bellator have a strangle hold on the Eastern European MMA prospects, but the UFC could bully its self into the market.
If nothing else, more Russian prospects could try to find their way into The Ultimate Fighter.
Ultimately, I know the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko’s M-1 management clearly were unable to figure out a deal – but I wouldn’t be surprised if M-1 officials attended a future Russia UFC event. Opening the doors to Western Europe, Brazil, and the United States could yield great cross-training potential, where Russia has a strong sambo and judo influence.
If the UFC is able to host a show in Russia, the promotion would be joined by the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, which will be followed by the 2018 soccer World Cup.
Meanwhile, the UFC continues its global expansion to host events in emerging markets where the fan base shows great growth potential – and locations where home-grown talent can emerge.