Hecho En Mexico: A Closer Look at the Expansion of MMA Into Mexico

Jaime MorenoCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2009

CHICAGO- OCTOBER 25:  People attend the UFC 90 at UFC's Ultimate Fight Night at Allstate Arena on October 25, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Recently, the UFC has made some formal announcements regarding their push to get our neighbors to the south some serious exposure to the world of MMA.  With their recent deal with Grupo Televista, the UFC has put forth a tremendous effort into the Mexican market. 

However, this isn’t the first effort there.  With TV shows like Guerreros del UFC on Fox Sports en Espanol, Explosion del UFC on Azteca America, and the WEC venture Alboroto also on FSE, Zuffa Inc. has been steadily trying to make the Spanish speaking world the new dominate figure in MMA.  

But why the push and why now when there are so many other markets open to the sport?

It seems to me that in order to truly become the global empire the UFC desires to be than Mexico is the obvious next step.  Mexico and her fight fans really have a lot of control in regards to combat sports. 

The Mexican fan keeps boxing relative in the North America, in particularly in the United States.  With mega fight cards in boxing on the horizon involving fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez, Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, the Mexican fight fan always come out in droves to watch their beloved fighters and hate on the rivals.   

Mexican fight fans always have supported boxing, so now is the time for the UFC and MMA in general to tap this market.

The UFC will use a similar blueprint that made them an international hit in the UK.  First starts the TV deal with Grupo Televista. 

In post UFC 100 interviews Dana White gave us the info on the invasion into Mexico. White said, "We start on free TV. We start educating people on the sport...We'll then bring live event down there. And then we'll continue bringing live events down there." 

dd to that TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero is a native Mexican from Sonora, and the one of the top heavyweight prospects Cain Velasquez is also a fighter that can appeal to the fan base. 

The WEC can also have a big role in the expansion.  With Mexican American warriors like Leonard Garcia and Manny Tapia who show the Mexican fighting spirit that native Mexicans love to see, the WEC would be foolish not to introduce to them to the fans if they haven’t already been. 

The biggest key within the WEC is Miguel Angel Torres current Bantamweight Champion and top five p4p fighter.  After his title defense against Mizugaki, Torres spent some time in Mexico and did a bunch of PR promoting the sport. 

Torres stated in an interview that he felt that MMA in Mexico would be a hit.   He said, “Mexicans love boxing and taekwondo, they love fighting in general. It’s a fight-oriented culture. So when you expose them to MMA, they love that. Just a little more time and they will be all about MMA”. 

If the WEC, who have had events in Corpus Christi, TX could use these fighters in a showcase event in say Monterey or Mexico City, then these fast-paced fighters could really appeal to the fans.

Zuffa has the best outline to make MMA big in Mexico but they aren’t the only organization pushing MMA.  Total Combat has in the past had events in Mexico and recently took some known MMA fighters into Mexico City this past weekend. 

Fighters like Jeff Monson, Eddie Sanchez, and Jesse Taylor made their presents known at Arena Mexico.  Combate Extremo is another organization in Mexico that has had some relative success. 

Currently the longest running MMA organization in Mexico, Combate Extremo is one of first fights organizations to adopt the Unified Rules of MMA, and has an event coming up on the 23rd in Monterey. 

Bellator Righting Championship has recently brought in some bigger named Mexican talent.  Fighters like Edwin Aguilar, Jorge “The Naked Man” Ortiz, and Yahir Reyes all made their names known, especially Reyes who had a YouTube moment with a massive spinning back fist on Estevan Payan. 

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney saw the potential in the Hispanic fight fan from the get go, when he got Bellator fighting championship a broadcast deal with ESPN Deportes.  "Looking at the trends in terms of buy rates on pay-per-view—look at Hispanic fight fans.  

"I see a consumer-base that has shown a huge allegiance to the fighting sports, get tied up and wrapped up in it, disproportionately buy pay-per-views, and yet to this point have been virtually ignored by mixed martial arts promoters in terms of really focusing on a show with on-air talent speaking Spanish."

As a younger Mexican-American, I personally have found it difficult to convert my older counterparts who grew up a boxing fan.  But with the right marketing of MMA and maybe an up and coming Mexican fighter the sport will grow in the country. 

They have the venues like Arena Mexico in Mexico City which holds around 18,000 people, Arena VFG in Guadalajara that holds in the neighborhood of 20,000, and Palacio de los Deportes which holds nearly 30,000 also in Mexico City. 

It’s time for this expansion, and I for one am happy that the world of MMA is finally taking notice.