(Maybe the UFC can get this guy out of retirement.)
So, another thing that Dana White said during that conference call yesterday that was otherwise dominated by BJ Penn‘s incredible trash-talk, was that Germany is next on the list of countries that the UFC is looking to expand into, followed by the Philippines and Australia. White also said “we’re starting to focus on doing something in Brazil…because there’s a lot of interesting economical things going on down there right now.”
Doing an event in Brazil has an obvious logic to it, given the history of the sport and the popularity it still enjoys there. But Germany? UFC 83′s incredibly positive reception in Montreal indicated that a popular local champion will get crowds fired up more than anything else — it was the missing element that recent UFC events held in the U.K. lacked, which may be why those cards weren’t nearly as successful. But UFC 75 and 80 were at least filled out with British scrappers who were somewhat recognizable. Off the top of your head, without using Google, how many Germany-based mixed martial artists could you name? I mean, I could probably name a couple guys that are German in the same way that Marcus Davis is Irish, but unless they want to re-brand Mac Danzig as “The Berlin Bad Boy,” it seems like it’ll be a hard sell, both for the local German audience, and the American fans watching at home who have to sit through a card stacked with Jerry Nobodies.
Now, do the same exercise with the Philippines and Australia, and try to come up with any names besides Brandon Vera and George Sotiropoulos (who are both based in the U.S.), and Elvis Sinosic (who doesn’t count). Not too easy, huh?
The UFC’s global-expansion plan sounds like ambition (and maybe a dash of hubris) getting in the way of good business sense. Canada has proven to be the UFC’s most receptive audience outside of the U.S. — why not exploit it further? One successful show in Montreal, and you’re already moving on to the next target? And if you want to talk local champions, stage the Nogueira/Mir fight (or Anderson Silva‘s next mauling) in Rio, and fill the card out with every other UFC fighter named Silva, or Thiago, or Thiago Silva. It would be like Ultimate Brazil: The Next Generation. Why isn’t this higher on the list of priorities than breaking into countries where you have absolutely no foothold?