SBD/Issue 31/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Velasquez' Title Win Could Open Doors For UFC In Latino Markets

Velasquez Has Been Open About Wanting
To Represent Latino Fans In The Octagon

Cain Velasquez won the UFC heavyweight championship Saturday night in a first-round TKO over Brock Lesnar, and with the UFC attempting to "make inroads into Mexico for at least half a decade," Velasquez "could be the key to getting that done," according to Josh Gross of SI.com. Velasquez was born in California and "considers himself American but he also grew up paying respects to his Mexican heritage." Velasquez: "I feel great being the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the UFC. I'm going to keep representing. This belt I dedicate to the Mexican people in the United States and Mexico." Gross reported the "push by UFC appears to have been a huge success, as the nearly 15,000 people inside the Honda Center, many waving Mexican-flag colored garb, were clearly behind Velasquez." UFC President Dana White: "Cain winning the title and holding the title is a big deal for the Latino market" (SI.com, 10/24). In Las Vegas, Adam Hill reported Velasquez is UFC's "best opportunity to date to further its popularity in Mexico and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, a market with a rich tradition of boxing fans that has been somewhat slow to latch on to mixed martial arts." Velasquez has "embraced the role of unofficial UFC ambassador to Mexico." MMA fighter Tito Ortiz: "The UFC is a marketing machine, and they're right on target. Cain fits the demographic well. It's nice to see another Latino be successful in this" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/23). MMA blog BLOODY ELBOW's Luke Thomas noted UFC "needed something of a Trojan Horse to begin meaningfully engaging Latinos, in America and Mexico, and Velasquez's title shot was the best available option." While he was neither born in nor a native to Mexico, Velasquez is "very legitimately part of the vast diaspora of those in America who identify themselves as having a common identity or ancestry connected to Mexico" (BLOODYELBOW.com, 10/24).

REPRESENTING AN ENTIRE CULTURE: In Las Vegas, Ryan Greene noted Velasquez "could theoretically wear a heavier crown than Lesnar or any other previous UFC heavyweight champ." UFC "pulled out all of the stops in promoting the fight as the chance for there to be a Mexican heavyweight champ for the first time in any combat sport, in turn catapulting him to iconic stature among his people" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/24). In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes Velasquez "wants his first defense to be the first major UFC card in Arizona, or the main event of a card in Mexico or in California." He gives UFC "footing in its quest to widen an audience too often stereotyped in the U.S. as a group of white, 20-something beer drinkers" (L.A. TIMES, 10/25).

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