In an interview with MMAJunkie this week, UFC president Dana White said that with the way his company has grown in the past nine years since it bought the struggling promotion from SEG, it’s foreseeable that fans could one day be treated to nearly two shows per week broadcast from around the globe.
"This is is a work in progress. We bought this company, and we were doing five fights a year. If you would have told me six or seven years ago that we’d be doing 34 fights a year, I would have said, ‘That’s impossible. It’ll never happen. That’s crazy.’ We’re probably going to end up doing 100 fights a year."
White also revealed that the promotion, which on Tuesday announced it will open a Canadian office in Toronto in the coming months, will likely set up another satellite location in China that will act as a hub to the Asian market.
"Right now, what we’ve used to go into Europe and even Australia is our U.K. office. But we’re looking right now – and here I go jumping ahead of myself and saying stuff before we do it – but we’re going to open an office in China.The hardest part in launching this sport and launching the UFC was getting the U.S. done," White said. "We’ve got everybody done now except for New York, and we’re on the budget in June. The rest of the world – in Asia, Asia understands martial arts. They’ve been practicing martial arts for thousands of years. It’s going to be a lot easier."
Interestingly, Zuffa is opting to plant roots in China rather than Japan where it temporarily ran a PRIDE office after purchasing the now defunct MMA organization. Maybe the fact that the Yakuza control a large portion of business dealings in the country and allegedly have ties to some Japanese fight promotions had something to do with the choice of locale for the office.
Regardless of the reasoning, White says that the company is moving full-steam ahead with its plans for global domination and that China is close to being a done deal.
"We’re there now," White said. "Lorenzo has been in China for the last 10 days, and we’re going to make it happen. The Ultimate Fighter is what really kicks it off, and you build stars in all these different regions. We’re working right now on ‘The Ultimate Fighter Middle East’ and ‘The Ultimate Fighter Canada’ that will be first. Then either before one of those or right at the same time will be ‘The Ultimate Fighter China.’"
According to White, after China his next target is Asia’s second most populous country: India.
"In India, there’s 300 million males aged 18-24," White said. "That’s more people than are actually in the U.S. We could have a show [in the U.S.] on Saturday night and five more going on in five other countries. That’s what’s going to eventually happen. It’s figuring this thing out, putting the pieces together, and like I said, it’s a work in progress. But I’m telling you guys, I said it years ago, and I’ve been saying it – how big this thing is going to be. I think people are now really starting to realize how big this thing is really going to be."
At Tuesday’s press conference at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, White said that one goal they are also quietly trying to achieve is the institution of a universally recognized ruleset.
"You look at the game of soccer. No matter where it’s played — in Canada, the US, the UK, Japan — the rules are the same around the world. That’s where we’re looking to go with this thing."