UFC Eyes Mexico For Expansion With Potential First Event In Mexico City In '14
After years of UFC “teasing the possibility, Mexico finally could be next” for league expansion, according to Dann Stupp of USA TODAY. UFC to date has “never ventured south of the border despite Mexico's quickly growing circuit of regional fight promotions.” But the “pieces are falling into place, including a new TV deal and a planned Spanish-language version of 'The Ultimate Fighter' reality series.” UFC Managing Dir of Int'l Development Marshall Zelaznik had “hoped an event could take place in Mexico this year." But he added that that was "probably a bit too ambitious.” Zelaznik said, "I think it'll probably slide to next year, in Mexico City.” As with other markets, UFC's success in Mexico “could hinge on its ability to build and promote local talent.” Mexican-American and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is “already a star in the country,” and Erik Perez is “a rising bantamweight contender.” If UFC's expansion into Mexico “proves successful, it could set the blueprint for the rest of the world” (USA TODAY, 6/10).
LOCAL SUPPORT: SPORTSNET.ca’s Perry Lefko wrote Brazil “surely has to be [the] heart and soul” of MMA. As UFC “comes to Brazil with more regularity, the fans are treated to quality cards because for the most part the competitors come to fight.” At UFC on Fuel TV 10 in Paola Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Saturday, the crowd “roared as one Brazilian after another ramped up” the card “with stellar performances.” The crowd, which “numbered 6,286 but seemed much larger because of the sheer volume of noise it elicited, cheered wildly.” It sometimes “seems like watching a UFC card in Brazil is like viewing a soccer event because of reactions of the crowd" (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/9).
COUNTERPUNCH: In N.Y., Kenneth Lovett reports 35 New York state Assembly Democrats have “signed a letter urging Speaker Sheldon Silver to put a stranglehold on a bill to legalize” MMA. The Democrats in the letter "blasted MMA as ‘brutal and barbaric’ as well as anti-woman and anti-gay." The letter read in part, “The ... violent nature of the sport raises serious concerns about the adverse effect that legalizing professional MMA events in New York could have on the well-being of our citizens, especially our children.” If all 69 “remaining Democrats support legalizing MMA, the party would still be seven votes short of passage” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/10).
HEALTH CONCERNS: The AP’s Stephen Kalin reported “despite legislative action to lift Connecticut's ban” on MMA, plans to bring the sport to venues across the state are “hanging in limbo because of a provision making promoters liable for health care costs associated with fighters' injuries.” MMA promotion Reality Fighting matchmaker Joe Cuff said that it is “standard procedure for doctors to provide medical inspections at fight events and for promoters to supply insurance to help defer possible health care costs, as they do in boxing.” But state Senate President Donald Williams, Jr., said that such policies “often cover only the night of the fight and have a low cap, leaving fighters personally liable for potentially large, long-term medical bills” (AP, 6/7).