As highlighted in a piece by Alan Snel of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the UFC has big plans for global expansion in 2014.
The promotion plans on staging 26 events outside of the USA with an eye for developing a higher level of self-sufficiency among the UFC’s international offices. It was noted that in mid-September there will be four UFC international fight shows (in Brazil, Europe, Asia and Canada) in a two week period.
The home offices of Zuffa will be keeping a close eye on their other offices to ensure that the high standard of production the UFC is known for is maintained.
“It’s a challenge,” said UFC executive vice president of operations and production, Craig Borsari. “The goal is to put on a UFC event in an international [location] that looks, sounds and feels like those in the United States, but will have a localized feel to it so that it’s relevant and speaks to the local audience.”
When attempting to incorporate such a high level of production into foreign markets, clothing themselves in the customs and traditions of the region is both a figurative and literal concern. The example given in the LVRJ noted the Octagon girls: while their diminutive attire is perfectly acceptable in the USA and Brazil, their wardrobe would be more conservative in other locales, such as China.
“It’s a daily or nightly conversation with headquarters making sure the show build-out meets UFC standards with meeting local market nuances,” Borsari said. “Like having local voices on promos and element pieces.”
Borsari specified that in these other countries, while the experience may be big-Vegas, the language will be that of the people; Japanese in Japan, Portuguese in Brazil and so on.
It is clear that Zuffa intends to take the training wheels off their secondary offices when the time comes, and to that end they are helping them learn by experience. The more shows that are staged internationally, the more practiced the UFC’s international offices will become in delivering a finely tuned event that speaks directly to the people of that region.
Their efforts to grow the sport globally will be aided by the fact that the UFC is bringing The Ultimate Fighter to more and more countries every year.
While it seems only reasonable to expect the sport to grow slowly when emerging into a new market, it also gives reason to be optimistic. As international offices become more acclimated to their specific region, the sport in turn will be allowed to sell itself honestly.
And when that happens, the UFC Fight Pass may be the next big thing for MMA fans.