The UFC plans to hold more than 40 MMA events in 2014, fewer than the staggering 54 originally identified by UFC leaders but still enough to comfortably set a new UFC record for events held in a single year.
UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta made the announcement Thursday. The 54 events number was originally tweeted by MMA reporter and broadcaster Ariel Helwani:
Lorenzo Fertitta just said they'll be doing 54 events next year. So from 33 to 54.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 21, 2013
However, in a video interview with Helwani posted later to MMAFighting.com, Fertitta said he "misspoke" earlier in the day, and that the real number would be "in the 40s." Fertitta also said that a more aggressive expansion of UFC Fight Night events in foreign countries would account for the increase.
"We're going to take that fight night product and expand it into Europe and into Asia next year," Fertitta said, noting events already on the books in London and Singapore.
He also said the UFC would have some "groundbreaking ideas" for when and where the fights would air, hinting that every event would not necessarily air on the traditional channels of Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 or pay-per-view.
Even if the event schedule settles in the 40s, it would blow away anything previously seen, including the original plan (itself a potential record) of 35 events for 2014 announced last month by UFC president Dana White. By comparison, 2013 featured a UFC record 33 events.
The UFC dramatically increased the number of events it hosted after it signed a broadcast deal with Fox in mid-2011. Some fans enjoy the larger number of fights (particularly available on free television), while others note that the large number of cards dilute the quality of the contests.