UFC 180

UFC Pulling out All the Stops to Ensure Success in Mexico City

Dec 29, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cain Velasquez speaks during post fight press conference as UFC president Dana White listens at UFC 155 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports
Kristian IbarraFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

The United States, Canada, Brazil, Sweden, Ireland, England, Japan, China, New Zealand, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Australia and now Mexico. 

For the first time in 288 events, the UFC will finally make its way south of the border for UFC 180. Realizing what kind of a market awaits them, Dana White and friends are making sure to pull out all the stops to ensure they make their November trip a fruitful one. 

White told the media in Mexico City:

It's huge, obviously for us, but also for the people in Mexico, too. I keep saying this, but it's true: the baddest dudes in the world, throughout the history of the world, have come from Mexico and Latin America. Your Salvador Sanchezs, your Julio Cesar Chavezs, and the list goes on and on. In the MMA world, all of those guys exist in [Mexico] right now and you're going to see them popping up over the next six years. You're going to see Mexico start to dominate, like it did in boxing. 

Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Fabricio Werdum celebrates a victory in his heavyweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Bringing the baddest dude on the planet, in Mexican-American UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, to fight against a formidable Spanish-speaking Brazilian opponent, in Fabricio Werdum, is a good start. Giving fans the opportunity to watch these two men compete as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America" certainly doesn't hurt either. 

This season will likely lack the almost inherent dramatic quality that previous seasons have had, but the constant exposure (for those with "UFC Fight Pass" subscriptions, anyway) should give fans an opportunity to get to know these two typically humble men enough to reignite the classic Mexico vs. Brazil rivalry that soccer fans have come to enjoy.

Rather than leave the heavyweight title match to shoulder the load, the UFC is supplementing the rest of the pay-per-view card with some of the best Mexican-American talent the promotion has to offer. 

Kelvin Gastelum, winner of the 17th iteration of "The Ultimate Fighter," is set to square off against Jake Ellenberger in the co-main event in what could potentially lead to a huge climb up the ladder for the Hispanic fighter. He may not be the best Hispanic fighter on the UFC roster, but he'll sure have his chance to prove it that night.

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Gilbert Melendez (red gloves) fights against Diego Sanchez (blue gloves) in their lightweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Diego Sanchez is scheduled to bring his mean mug and high-octane fighting style to entertain his secondary countrymen against Norman Parke. Even in a hypothetical losing effort, Sanchez's preference to live and die by the sword should get this crowd on its feet. 

Dennis Bermudez steps into Mexico City with his seven-fight winning streak intact before challenging former title contender Ricardo Lamas. A decisive win for either fighter likely wouldn't lead to an immediate title shot in the ever-crowded featherweight division—it could lead to the beginnings of becoming a household name in the Hispanic market, though. 

Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Erik Perez (red gloves) walks to the cage before his bantamweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The UFC's also bringing Erik "El Goyito" Perez and his green-white-and-red wrestling mask to UFC 180. Win, lose or draw, Perez is set to become one of the more popular fighters as he embraces the lucha libre-loving culture.

A solid outing from most of these fighters could lead to the Latin American expansion the promotion's sought after for quite some time now. There's no telling how often the UFC would be willing to return, especially if its champion continues to walk out to country-favorite Vicente Fernandez's "Los Mandados" before every one of his dominant performances inside the cage. 

 

Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University's student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.

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