UFC Plans To Hold First Event In Paris Later This Year
The UFC plans to hold its first card in Paris later this year after France earlier this month became the last major global market to legalize MMA. UFC Senior Exec VP & COO Lawrence Epstein said the promotion does not have "complete visibility into the final stage of the regulatory process" in the country, which could finish as early as the end of Q2. However, he stressed that French fans will "absolutely" see the UFC in '20. Epstein called France's legalization of the sport an "important milestone." "France was the last big (market left)," he said. "There are virtually no others that don't allow the sport." Epstein was quick to dispel potential negative effects stemming from France's longtime ban. He said, "It hasn't hurt popularity, there's no negativity around the sport. The only negative is we haven't been able to unleash content and unleash events." The ban did not stop the country from producing top MMA fighters, as Francis Ngannou -- who was born in Cameroon but fights out of Paris -- currently is the UFC's No. 2-ranked heavyweight.
For more on the UFC and its plans for France, see Friday's issue of SBD Global.