UFC making its mark in Australia
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has quickly soared in popularity in North America, with Britain being another stronghold for the mixed martial arts (MMA) organization and now it aims to get a firm grip in Australia. It’s off to a good start as the initial UFC event down under attracted 18,000 fans in Sydney earlier in 2010 and the next show (UFC 127) is all set for Feb. 27th 2011 when it returns to Sydney.
Australia seems like a logical choice to expand to as it’s estimated that about 2.6 million citizens (one in nine) participate in or watch some type of combat sport. And like its name suggests, the UFC is the ultimate when it comes to man vs man fighting as it takes place in a caged octagon and features various types of fighting disciplines, such as karate, boxing, wrestling, kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu.
The UFC might not need to market and promote its product in Australia very much with such as big fan base there, but it does and is recognized at being masters at it. It’s this business acumen that makes the UFC one of the fastest growing sports competitions. The organization is believed to be worth about $2.5 billion, but it didn’t happen overnight though as the UFC was actually formed 17 years ago.
It didn’t make much of a splash in the sports world until 2001 though when a sports promotion firm named Zuffa bought it. It didn’t take Zuffa long to get a pay-TV contract with Fox Sports Net and they sold about 150,000 pay-per-views for a November event in 2002.
One of the reasons for its popularity, other than the fights themselves, is the fact the fighters are quite accessible and work at promoting the organization. This has helped the UFC grow in leaps and bounds and over million pay-per-views were sold for a card last July. But in the end, it seems to all come down to a quality product.
This is shown by the competitiveness of the five-hour live events and most people go home happy feeling they definitely got their money’s worth, both live and on television. Making sure the fighters are as evenly matched as possible is a key in this area as it creates interesting and competitive fights.
The February card in Sydney will feature Australian UFC fighters Kyle Noke and George Sotiropoulos and is already sold out. However, there are some skeptics in the ranks still. Ted Tanner, the president of Boxing Australia, said the UFC definitely has novelty value, but prefers conventional boxing over a sport that allows opponents to go for submissions as a way to win a bout. Tanner said the government will need to keep an eye on the UFC to make sure there are no serious injuries. However, there’s never been a death in the UFC and it’s controlled very tightly.
It looks like Australia’s going to be another area of the world that embraces the UFC and about 6,000 females bought tickets to the inaugural show in Sydney. That’s 6,000 out of the 18,000 tickets that were sold. The last big boxing match in Australia between Garth Wood and Anthony Mundine saw a total of 6,000 fans at the same arena.