With the UFC getting geared up for Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England, this Saturday, with a card in Sweden following in the next few months, it's clear that Zuffa is making a play for Europe. They are upping the ante in 2014, though.
Speaking with United Kingdom Network BT Sport, UFC President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta discussed how they are planning on bursting into the market with a series of events designed to grow talent in the area. The shows, Fertitta guaranteed, would begin with a "significant event" in London, England (with MMA Fighting speculating it would take place in "the first week of March"), and would feature "incredibly talented fighters from various countries in this market that someday will probably be a UFC champion."
Past that, dates and locations are murky, but Scotland, Turkey, Germany, Ireland and Poland were all pointed to as potential destinations for the UFC.
UFC Executive Vice President Garry Cook discussed with Fox Sports that these events will not be aired in prime time in the United States.
I think there's got to be a little bit more purpose in our European events...You have to be fighting for a reason, for something, and that's important. We can't have a tournament, as you well know. It's very difficult to do that, but we do see the opportunity to create more European champions.
This is likely a wise business move for the UFC. As it continues its global expansion, it runs into more and more difficulties trying to satiate both a Fox audience and the international consumers they are courting. Even something as simple as finding a workable time slot is a massive inconvenience when you plan on designing it for fans on one continent, then broadcasting it to another.
Removing the American audience from the equation allows them to completely focus their efforts on building their brand in Europe. It also allows them to freely build cards around fighters that are not well-known by American fans.
The potential ramifications for this story are enormous and extend to all areas of the UFC. Stick with Bleacher Report for more details on these shows as they become available.