The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will bring UFC 112 and its fighters to Abu Dhabi, the first time the UFC has hosted an event in the continent of Asia since 2000. In 2000, the UFC held a PPV event in Japan, but that was before Zuffa acquired the UFC.
Since then, Dana White and his team have tried to venture into new markets by holding PPV events overseas. Their main ventures have seen them fight in the United Kingdom several times, once in Germany, and once in Ireland. U
FC 110 will mark the first time the UFC ventures out of North America and Europe, with a stacked card headlined by Heavyweight contenders Cain Velasquez facing off against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Following that event, three UFC events will be held back in America before they fly to oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) for UFC 112 on Apr. 10.
Tentatively, the Middleweight championship will be up for grabs on the event, with Anderson Silva defending it against Vitor Belfort.
For this event to be a success, the fighters on show would not matter as much. This fight would need to sell well in the UAE and their surrounding countries in the Middle East.
In the UAE, soccer is the undisputed No. 1 most watched sport. Their club teams generate crowds of more than 15,000 fans every match, similar to numbers that the UFC expects at their events. However, women are generally not allowed to watch such male-dominated sporting events.
The UFC probably decided to hold an event there because they see a population and country that is overflowing with cash, and want a share of it. It won't be that easy though.There are bound to be a select group of men who would willingly pay to watch these events, but fighting is generally not a popular sport, and the UFC will garner disappointing numbers.
With half of the population not allowed to watch, it makes it less likely that PPV numbers will be impressive in the area, and the country will not become abuzz with MMA the same way it did in the USA. Granted, the UFC can still get quality numbers from the rest of the way, but don't expect the UFC to return to an area where MMA is not as appreciated as other parts of the world.
In my next article, I will look at a few possible locations for the UFC to venture into.