UFC Eyes Possible Live Event In Mexico After Velasquez Retakes Heavyweight Belt
Cain Velasquez regained the UFC heavyweight title Saturday night by defeating Junior dos Santos in UFC 155, and the company once again has “a marketing delight -- a proud, dedicated champion who appeals to the lifeblood of the fighting audience, the Latino market,” according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. The fight “produced a live gate of $3.286 million, greater than" Brock Lesnar’s farewell loss to Alistair Overeem last year. Overeem is “likely Velasquez’s next opponent and although it would seem unlikely for that large of an event, UFC President Dana White said he is intrigued by the idea of taking Velasquez and rising bantamweight star Erik Perez of Mexico south of the border for a pay-per-view card.” That potential expansion “coincides with the UFC anticipating a steady slate of compelling fight cards” (LATIMES.com, 12/30). In Las Vegas, Adam Hill notes the UFC has “long desired an increased television presence in Mexico and has visions of holding a live event in the country as early as this coming year.” Velasquez and Perez “will be vital to that effort.” White on Saturday said, "Obviously it doesn't hurt with the two guys that won tonight and how they looked.” Hill notes White is “shocked the organization isn't already a huge hit in Mexico, but difficulties negotiating television deals in the country have proven to be a roadblock.” White: "When we started this thing, I really thought the three no-brainers (for success) were the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico. We've been working on Mexico hard for a long time. We're still working hard on it” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/31).
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: USA TODAY’s John Morgan writes while MMA is not yet regulated in the state of New York, that “isn’t stopping UFC officials from targeting Madison Square Garden for a November 2013 fight card to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the promotion.” Athletic commissions in New York, Connecticut and Montana “don’t regulate MMA.” White said that the UFC “had gone so far as to set a tentative date for the event.” But White “declined to offer a reason for his newfound confidence that regulation would come to the Empire State next year.” The New York Senate and Assembly return to session in January (USA TODAY, 12/31).