Ufc Ukthe Trials And Tribulationsof Taking It On The Road
The Trials and Tribulations
of Taking it on the Road
Eight months ago, a carefully laid plan was put in place. The plan was fairly simple. Fly in low under the radar, dig in deep, and then explode onto the scene. While sounding more like a World War I strategy, the "little company that could" gambled millions on it that it would pay off. In its quest to become an international sensation, Zuffa Sports Entertainment set out to take their mixed martial arts promotion where it had never been before. On July 13, 2002, the planning came to fruition. To the applause 4,500 plus fans, the Ultimate Fighting Championship made its European debut at England’s famous Royal Albert Hall. It was a hard road to London, harder than most will ever know, with obstacles arising in the days and even hours leading up to UFC 38 that will never be told. But true to its name, Zuffa wasn’t going to give up their greatest challenge yet without a fight. With its Las Vegas office packed in suitcases, Zuffa made the 10-hour flight overseas, knowing that the stakes were high, but the payoff would be sweet.
It’s July 29th, two weeks after the show, and Zuffa president Dana White is trying to balance his one-year-old on his knee as he talks shop. The subject is London and he discusses how the city first came into the big picture. "When we first bought the company," he starts, "we were only on DirectTV in the United States and Brazil and we had Viewer’s Choice in Canada. We were taking this thing global and that meant London. We talked to the guys from SKY TV and we drafted a good game plan with how to run this thing with free shows on TV, then turn it into pay-per-view. Basically, it was a strategy."
With the premiere of the UFC’s weekly show in the United Kingdom at the beginning of this year, Zuffa knew it had its foot in the door. A culmination of fights, past and present, sprinkled with commentary and (of course) advertisements for the upcoming UFC in London, the weekly show initially introduced the product to the fans. Within a couple of months, the show’s success bumped it up to two-hour installments. "We were playing on TV for months and months there. The viewership grew every week — huge. Our ratings were just below the WWF there, but they were blowing away major league baseball, the NHL, and the NBA — blowing them away!"
With the show wetting the public’s appetite, Zuffa turned its attention next to a venue that would make a strong statement. Hoping to a make a splash overseas, Zuffa set its sights high on a 140-year old historical landmark, the Royal Albert Hall. But just how did Zuffa get the house where such luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli, and Frank Sinatra once performed? Explains White, "We kind of flew in under the radar. That’s how we got the Royal Albert Hall. We really did a ‘soft launch’ to them. What you have to understand about the Royal Albert Hall is it’s not like a regular venue where they’re out to make some money. That place is like a national treasure. The Rolling Stones and the Beatles have played there. They have a board of directors there who decides what goes in there and what doesn’t. When the Royal Albert Hall found out what the UFC event really was, they weren’t too crazy about it."
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From Josh Hedges/Zuffa:
UFC TO PREMIERE BELFORT VS. LIDDELL FIGHT SHOW ON ALL CABLE PAY-PER-VIEW NETWORKS, AUG. 16
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT SHOWDOWN HAS NEVER BEEN TELEVISED;
LAS VEGAS, August 13, 2002…The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will premiere Belfort Vs. Liddell, a special two-hour fight show at 10 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. PDT, Friday, Aug. 16, on all its pay-per-view television networks and satellite providers, iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, TVN, Dish Network, Bell ExpressVu and Viewers Choice Canada.
Belfort Vs. Liddell will be the first opportunity that most fight fans will have to see the Light Heavyweight showdown between top contenders Chuck Liddell of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Vitor Belfort of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Bellagio in Las Vegas because it has never been televised. The suggested retail price is $19.95.
Pay-per-view re-plays and encore performances will continue to air during August and early September. The iN DEMAND re-play schedule is 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT on Channel iN2, Saturday, Aug. 17; 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT on iN2 and 6 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. PDT on iN1, Sunday, Aug. 18, and 1 a.m. EDT, Friday, Aug. 23/10 p.m. PDT, Thursday, Aug. 22, on iN2.
DIRECTV will offer All Day Ticket re-plays on Aug. 18, 20, 22, 26 and 30, and Sept. 1 and 6. Dish Network will offer encore performances at Midnight EDT, Saturday, Aug. 17/9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 16, and All Day Tickets on Aug. 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 and 30.
Five additional fights from the Bellagio card, including highlights of the Welterweight battle between Robbie Lawler of Davenport, Iowa, and Steve Berger of St. Louis, Mo., that was televised on Fox Sports Net’s Best Damn Sports Show Period, will be included in the show. Also featured will be two welterweight bouts between Benji Radach of Longview, Wash., and Nick Serra of East Meadow, N.Y., and Pete Spratt of Denison, Tex. versus Zach Light of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; a middleweight fight between Tony Fryklund of Boston, Mass., and Rodrigo Ruas of Rio de Janeiro, and a lightweight dual between Joao Pierini Marcos of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Yves Edwards of The Woodlands, Tex.
By Keith Mills
Just one week after their last Pay Per View show the California based King Of The Cage is set for a busy fall with three shows lined up so far. September 19th 6-0 Romie Aram takes on 13-4 Joe Stevenson with the winner to take on Dennis Hallman in November. This show takes place at the Santa Anna Star Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico with tickets going on sale Friday. Last time the 4000 tickets sold out quickly, so get them early. Watch for further card announcements in the days to come.
On October 19th KOTC returns to the Soboba Casino in California where Debi Purcell, who many consider the number 2 ranked female 135 lb fighter, is signed to fight a so far unnamed opponent. Debi has been making waves since headlining HOOKnSHOOT "Revolution", the all-woman’s show from last April and released on DVD last weekend. Since then Debi beat Amy Pitan for the Ultimate Wrestling title but had to cancel her IFC appearance due to a minor training injury. Now back in training look for Debi to come back with a vengeance.
On November 1st KOTC returns to Pay Per View with the winner of Aram/Stevenson to fight Dennis Hallman for the title in Reno.
KOTC also announced the signing of Dan Severn to a 3-fight deal and Don "The Dragon" Wilson to a 3-5 fight deal. No word is available on when these two legends will make their KOTC debut but they are sure to spread the reputation of KOTC to a larger audience.
From the event’s promoter:
Warriors Quest 7
Aug 30, 2002
Light Heavyweight World Championship
David "Kawika" Pa’aluhi Vs. Sean Gray
Gray is coming back Hawaii and says he’s is going to leave the Champion. Gray also states his first round TKO win over Falaniko Vitale wasn’t a fluke and he is here to prove that. And in the other corner, Hawaiian ppwer house Kawika Pa’aluhi has othe plans. He came back after a long lay off and knocked out highly favorited Pride veteran Bobby Southworth. Pa’aluhi also has his eyes set on going home the new Champion.