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Lorenzo Fertitta Breaks Down UFC’s India Strategy


(During international expansion negotiations, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta lets his pecs and arms do the talking.)

MMA Junkie has an interesting item up on their site from UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta where the owner/executive discusses the organization’s expansion into India. If you’re anything like this writer, your initial reaction to the news that the UFC was looking to break into the sub-continent nation with The Ultimate Fighter: India was, “Yeah, that’s a huge market! What with all their people, and such. Wait, do they like MMA in India? Are there Indian MMA fighters?”

Perhaps you’re much more worldly and cultured than I (more than likely) and didn’t think that. But in the Junkie article, Fertitta admits that the UFC is starting from scratch in India. He just believes that there are cultural forces and trends that might make Indians of a certain age very receptive to MMA and the UFC.

“It’s a market we think has a lot of potential, but we are literally starting from ground zero,” Fertitta said. “People (there) really don’t know anything about this sport or the UFC.”

The challenge there is obvious, but the flip side of folks not knowing about you might be that UFC may not face as many of the negative preconceived notions of MMA that they’ve have had to overcome in the states. TUF: India will be broadcast on the SONY SIX network in India, and Junkie says that the reality series will be cross-promoted on popular mainstays, including the Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire? Fertitta said that filming of TUF: India is planned for the summer of 2013 with the show airing the following fall.

Anyone who has followed the UFC for some time knows that, despite the guts and hunches feel that their President, Dana White, often gives, they rely heavily on research data to make business decisions. Fertitta said he likes what he sees in the data on India for the UFC.

“What we’re finding through our research is they want alternative sports,” Fertitta said. “High-paced, fast action – all of those things. Well, the UFC is pretty much fits that bill. There’s nothing else out there that we think really does.

“They’re consuming a more Western/Hollywood-type product, whether it be the ‘Avatars’ of the world or different tech movies, stuff like that,” he continued.

“When you look at the trends of what’s going on in what I’ll kind of call a youth culture and the way they’re consuming entertainment, that younger generation is kind of moving away from traditional Bollywood.”

Any of you ‘taters have special insight into the Indian market for the UFC? Do you feel that MMA and the UFC will be a success there and, more importantly, how pissed will you be to have to deal with more time-delayed events?

- Elias Cepeda

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rish_BJJfreak- March 13, 2013 at 9:19 am
Hell yeah!!!! Am an Indian and I say…. ‘Go for it’. India is now a rising Economical power and the reason being.. Indians paid their due. Indians work hard and play hard..
And Indians are west influenced, True.. But UFC needs to take its time. It’s not a ‘been there done that’ thing. This will require patience and a whole lot of advertisement.
But if UFC can get their foothold, India will be huge for them. Just look at BCCI. The Indian cricket council is richer than the International one :P
Also UFC needs to hire Bollywood starts and cricket stars for their promotions… Hit it where it hurts ;)
avin1991- September 29, 2012 at 4:54 am
As an Indian, I strongly feel that if they promote the brand well and work hard to sell fights, it will be a colossal success within a few years. Re our middle class: Among the large economies across the world, we are growing at the second fastest pace. So, we are quickly adding to our already large base of middle class folks. BTW, WWE is extremely popular here in India. So, we as a society, don't have anything against combat sports/action.
zhanbao3- September 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm
http://tinyurl.com/luckygrip
Dewdness- September 17, 2012 at 9:44 am
As long as India produces fighters that can equal or do greater than those smug Brazilians, Im all for it.
The Ufc needs more diversity for sure. Good place to start :)
Fried Taco- September 17, 2012 at 9:21 am
And for anyone thinking India isn't ready for MMA, check out this movie clip. I think we have one of our coaches:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-2yDNz9peU
Fried Taco- September 17, 2012 at 8:52 am
One thing is for sure, they need something exciting to watch during their cricket matches.

And I can't wait for the first UFC Bollywood musical!
khonomtom- September 17, 2012 at 8:00 am
I'm from India and I know for a fact it will be a while for UFC to have a following similar to what it is in the states, people in india follow cricket and thats about it, but in terms of money, its a huge market for sure...
teresacut- September 17, 2012 at 7:22 am
One word: "Ahimsa": non-violence -- one of the tenets of Hindu India. Unless the MMA pursues the Muslim, and paltry Christian-Judeo segments of the Indian population, I imagine there will be little interest in  professional fighting in a Hindu country where violence is not embraced and where vegetarians dominate. A relevant fact: India has never initiated a war, EVER. And 98% of their movies are musicals with happy endings. I sincerely doubt MMA will find a profitable target market in India; however, Indian culture does embrace flexibility, so there's a remote chance they could surprise to the upside on this topic. If they do, then one question the MMA should ask is "should" they bring a sport to India that goes against many of that culture's values? Western imperialism comes in many forms, and much that is unique about traveling is lost when another country becomes more and more like your own. (I am sure the person who refers to Indians as "dot heads" has this at the forefront of his concerns.) On the other hand, Bali seems like it would be a better target market. Even though they're Hindu, as well, they engage in ancient tribalistic rituals involving weapons and fighting each other. Their youth embrace American culture, as well; they love tattoos and working out. (Many of them have been exposed to American culture through their work on cruise ships and the constant stream of western visitors who go there to surf.) They eat meat, which poses one less hurdle toward getting the body in physical shape. And they have a tradition of fighting already, except that the "fighters" are chickens they breed to fight: cock fighting. All said, Bali makes more sense as a target market than India.
ksgbobo- September 17, 2012 at 6:27 am
When I first read this news on Junkie, I was wondering the same thing...do they even know what MMA is, and are there any dot-head fighters out there now?
Its a huge market, and there is a lot of potential there. I just hope they produce some good fighters.
Btw, the point system in the Olympics for boxing sucks alpaca balls. I wouldnt put any weight behind them dot-heads winning medals.
Langer-Dan- September 17, 2012 at 2:26 am
India is a big country (1 billion+), so even with a small middle class, that's still works out at 50 million people. In contrast there are 141 million people in the USA who are considered middle class. India has a long history of martial arts, but mostly with weapons based systems as opposed to “empty hand”. Their boxers and wrestlers got slivers and bronzes in the 2012 Olympics. I don’t know if the Indians will latch on to the UFC but one thing I know is that the food at any Indian based UFC will be awesome.
Anhonestmoose- September 17, 2012 at 4:17 am
Then again, I'm just some anonymous commenter on some MMA website. What do I know? Also, good call on the Indian food.
Anhonestmoose- September 17, 2012 at 4:15 am
Yes, but it is an emerging middle class. A large portion of those people are recent comers to this social status. In the next 10-20 years we can expect to see more infrastructure, more of the outlying villages and towns becoming part of the greater society (there are still tens of millions of people living very primitively by modern standards). This also will give a larger talent pool from which to draw. The improving Olympic performances are good sign, but it will still take time to develop into an MMA base. The outlook is good, I just don't see it in the immediate future. Fingers crossed though.
Elias- September 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm
Ok, interesting distinction, moose. Do you think that a society can get into something that they themselves don't take part in, by in large? Can MMAish activities (boxing class, Jiu Jitsu class, etc.) become popular based on people getting down with the UFC as spectators, and that in turn end up helping UFC and MMA?
Anhonestmoose- September 17, 2012 at 4:10 am
It's possible, dropping a few bucks on an event is significantly less risky than devoting years of your life to something without any tangible reward. The country does also have a decent history of martial arts, so it could potentially capture their interest. OneFC seems to have carved themselves a place. The problem I see is that there are no Indian stars on the horizon to inspire younger folks and capture imaginations (if you will). Regardless, I really do hope the sport catches on. More talent can only mean better shows for us fans.
Anhonestmoose- September 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Not for another 10-20 years. India will have the same problems developing MMA talent that they have with the Olympics. Namely, a very low participating population. India has a very small middle class. While the reward for taking a couple years off working a normal job is high, the risk is higher. In the US a person can take a couple years off their work/education and still have a great chance at a middle class life. In India a middle class existence is the dream that can be achieved through hard work and life-long dedication. Consumption is one thing, production another.
Anhonestmoose- September 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Hate to go all logistics on ya. We can always hope.
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