Destination Global: International Cities UFC Should Venture to
With UFC events at London, Dublin, Cologne, Manchester, and Montreal all in the last year, the message is clear: when it comes to the joy of martial arts, well, I'll let Genki say it.
With Zuffa having already scheduled UFC 110 at Sydney, Australia, it's clear that the globalisation of MMA is not about to stop anytime soon. So, that said, what major cities should UFC look to in 2010 and beyond?
Manila, the Philippines
A place where boxing superstar Manny Pacquaio is a national icon, the Zuffa brass have expressed a desire to bring UFC to the Philippines before, and with good reason. Perhaps the reason Brandon Vera is still around is increasing the attention of MMA to the public's awareness, and should he best Randy Couture on Saturday, we may see a Filipino show all the sooner.
A problem would be the relatively low level of income in the Philippines, so tickets would need to be sold cheap. Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (pictured) and the Rizal Memorial Coliseum would be prime candidates.
With the success that Zuffa has had with with promoting UFC in merry old England, it might be time to go north of Hadrian's wall into Scotland.
A notable problem is the lack of Scottish fighters (Marcus Davis claims some Scottish) but the presence of the UFC and TUF on U.K. television has afforded the Scots a level of recognition amongst UFC superstars.
Glasgow has no shortage of stadiums that could be procured by Zuffa for a UFC event, with Hamden Park (pictured), Celtic Park, and Ibrox Stadium all excellent stadiums.
With a population of 1.3 billion, and one of the fastest growing economies on earth, the People's Republic of China is at a prime for MMA. With UFC recently having secured a TV deal there, and Art of War, a national Chinese mixed martial arts promotion gaining in popularity, a UFC show in China maybe just what the doctor ordered to kick start MMA into the next level in the People's Republic.
While slightly hindered by the lack of Chinese mixed martial artists, the Beijing Olympics clearly demonstrated the potential of the Chinese to provide the venues—such as Beijing National Stadium (colloqially called the Bird's Nest) and Beijing National Indoor Stadium (pictured)—as well as the ability to provide an audience any promoter would be happy with.
Furthermore, success with China may lead to the fascinating prospect of having traditional Chinese Kung Fu artists becoming more commonplace in MMA.
Seoul, South Korea
With the acquisition of Korean superstar Yosihiro Akiyama from DREAM last year, one can't help but wonder if a Korean invasion isn't on the horizon. And no, it doesn't involve Kim Jong-Il or nuclear weapons.
UFC has always had a very strong interest in South Korea, as UFC 100 broadcasts reached very respectable numbers, so it can be concluded that a live show headlined by the likes of Dong Hyun Kim, and of course Yoshihiro Akiyama would reap better numbers by far.
Furthermore, South Korea, unlike Japan, would not be home to any hostile MMA promotions that might countrerprogram any UFC events.
The Seoul World Cup Stadium (pictured) or the Seoul Olympic Stadium would be venues of choice, having already hosted monumental sporting events.
France has the honour of creating the martial art Savate, not a very commonly practised martial art in all fairness, but there may be a fighting fanbase within France yet.
With a population of 10 million, Paris, even without being the best MMA fans on earth, would be an easy sellout. Cheick Kongo would be the first candidate should a fight in France materialise, followed perhaps by Xavier Foupa-Pokam and David Baron.
Good venues would be Parc de Princes (pictured), or Stade de Bouin, but Stade de France would be impossible at the present.
Mexico City, Mexico
With a long history of loyal support for boxers like Oscar de la Hoya, Mexico is ripe with potential as a venue for a UFC event.
Were Joe Silva to put together a card with Cain Velasquez, Roger Huerta, Tito Ortiz, and—stretching a little—Miguel Torres, success in Mexico would be all but guaranteed.
Famed for tenacity, heart and pride, the Mexican boxer is considered not so much a fighter as a warrior, and MMA would benefit greatly from their presence. Estadio Olímpico Universitario (pictured), Estadio Azteca, and Estadio Azul would all be gigantic venues on the scale of Saitama Super Arena at PRIDE's hayday.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
"If it ain't Dutch, it ain't much."—three-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion, Semmy Schilt
The masters of kickboxing, the Dutch have never produced a healthy stable of MMA champions, Bas Rutten excluded. Nonetheless, the potential is enormous,and there are more than enough Dutch stars so as to guarantee the success of a show in Holland.
Antoni Hardonk and Stefan Struve are available right now, and the possibility is always present to sign Alistair Overeem, Gilbert Yvel,and possibly Semmy Schilt.
Amsterdam certainly has the capacity to hold such an event; the Amsterdam Arena, home of AFC Ajax and pictured above, would be a perfect venue.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
More commonly spoken about when referencing the famous ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, the UAE is obviously no stranger to fighting contests, and I would be willing to bet that booing would be non-existent when the fight turned to grappling.
The UAE has the honour of being one of the wealthier nations in the world, and Abu Dhabi in particular was counted by Fortune magazine in 2007 as the richest city on earth, so tickets could be sold at a (un)fair price.
Al Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (pictured), or Jeque Zayed Stadium would all be suitable venues for mixed martial arts.
With UFC 83 and UFC 97 having been great successes in Canada, it makes perfect sense that Zuffa wish to return and throw another show.
Georges St.Pierre, Denis Kang, David Loiseau, Jason MacDonald...would it be possible to make a show in Canada flop?
Maybe if someone asks Kalib Starnes to come back. Canada needs no help to watch MMA, and I see the whole nation being conquered by MMA, not as surely as hockey, obviously, but not a million miles away.
A suitable arena would be the Rogers Centre (pictured), formerly the Toronto SkyDome.
The possibilities for a Brazilian show are considerable: the Nogueira brothers, Luiz Cané, Hermes Franca, Gleison Tibau, Paulo Thiago, Thiago Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Thiago Alves, and perhaps they could even schedule a title bout such as Mauricio Rua-Lyoto Machida II or Anderson Silva-Vitor Belfort.
Brasília has suitable stadiums like the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium (pictured),Serejão and Estádio Mané Garrincha, while having the added advantage of being relatively low in crime rates when compared to cities such as Rio di Janiero or Sao Paulo.
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