UFC's Gym Expansion: Chuck Liddell, Adam Sedlack and Joseph Benavidez Comment

Gary HermanCorrespondent IMay 12, 2012

The UFC wants you to want to be an Ultimate Fighter.

By opening up a string of UFC-theme based gyms across the country, the world’s top mixed martial arts promotion believes it can leverage its brand recognition into several fitness centers.

Presently, the UFC has four gyms open, all in California. There are three in Southern California (Corona, Rosemead and Torrance), and one in Northern California (Concord).

The next location is already determined to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Not surprisingly, California is also where UFC draws some of the company’s biggest pay-per-view buy rates.

“Certainly, it’s nice to be able go into a market where the UFC has a lot of penetration,” UFC Gym Senior Vice President Adam Sedlack said, “because you have a natural customer base.”

For UFC 145, the strongest pay-per-view markets were Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Minneapolis, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Columbus, Ohio.

As for future plans, Sedlack was reluctant to overly commit.

“We’re doing a lot of homework right now on where the right spaces are to go, but I really can’t divulge where we’re going to right now.”

The gym is not just geared to a potential mixed martial artist. They are also looking to gather in traditional gym attendees. Sedlack’s experience prior to UFC Gym was with 24-Hour Fitness.

As a result, the non-mixed martial arts parts of the gym have a lot of the same features that a 24-Hour Fitness does. There are free weights, nautilus machines, spinning classes, etc.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell is impressed with the new Torrance location.

“It’s great seeing the gym,” Liddell said. “It’s one of the things that comes with our sport growing.”

However, the opening of a new UFC Gym is not without controversy. When the UFC opened in Rosemead, the community did not want it there.

“The people there thought it would be the year 1995 hardcore fighting,” Sedlack said. “We can take people that don’t know the UFC and educate them.”

After teaching the people of the community that mixed martial arts is not the barbaric sport they had seen previously, the community embraced the location. Last year, the Rosemead Chamber of Commerce rewarded the UFC Gym with its business of the year award.

Flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez is shocked to see how fast the UFC brand is growing.

“It’s amazing to see the expansion of the UFC. Just to have gyms opening up like this, it’s insane. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world.”