UFC Sets Its Sights On Mexico, Latin America

August 5, 2008

Recent happenings indicate that the UFC will put their first toes in the water of the Latin market. On the weekend of August 15th the UFC will be lending their talent and Octagon design to a pair of events to increase their penetration of Latin America. On the 15th they will be holding a training seminar in Tijuana with UFC fighter Diego Sanchez as well as UFC Espanol color commentator and Mexican MMA fighter Victor Davila. The seminar will center on “Ground and Pound and its effectiveness in MMA”. The UFC is using these seminars to spread the basics of MMA as well as the tactics of fighting inside the cage. Davila will also do seminars for the UFC in Costa Rica and Argentina.

Victor Davila is the point man for Zuffa’s Latin operations. Davila seems to be equal parts Joe Rogan and Joe Silva in his role. Davila is the voice and image of the play-by-play narrations for the Spanish audience for UFC live events as well as a host of the “El Octágono del UFC” on Galavision. At the same time, Davila is also being used as a scout/talent relations man in looking for MMA fighters in the Mexican and Latin market. He is currently feeling out and trying to sign “name” fighters in the Mexican circuit for Zuffa. All this in addition to doing seminars similar to the one mentioned above.

The second step will be an event the same week-end in Tijuana featuring the biggest names in Mexican MMA in the Cage of Fire (COF) promotion. The UFC is using a pre-existing promotion in COF to help put forward their cage environs as well as act as a liaison to the Mexican MMA market. The Tijuana event will be the first local card to be fought inside an Octagonal cage, under license form the UFC. This will be the first of several cards contested in an Octagon, leading up to a final card in November. These fights are being presented to the Mexican fighters as qualifying match-ups for the UFC, a deal similar in concept to what the UFC did with the Japanese cage promotion GCM. Yoshyuki Yoshida was the beneficiary of that arrangement, leading to his debut in the Octagon against Jon Koppenhaver. The UFC, while working with COF on these fights, does dispute the contention that the winners will receive UFC contracts.

The WEC looks to be a key component in Zuffa’s plans to expand south of the border. Scott Adams and Reed Harris, co-heads of the WEC, are being invited to scout talent. Adams recently commented to the Mexican press about his efforts:

In a published article online by Ricardo Ibarra of the Excelsior newspaper, Scott Adams says: “We want to go to Mexico to look for talent, I know that this sport is growing very fast there, and is why we want to visit it to be able to observe all the peleadores (MMA fighters) and to bring us to the best gladiators of MMA. It is very possible that we have an event in its country, so that we want to extend our market, and first in the list it is Mexico, we want to show the best fights to him of the WEC, to the fanatics of this sport.”

Adams commented that the best Latin MMA fighters find their home in the WEC currently with fighters like Miguel Angel Torres, Manny Tapia, Damacio Page, Leonard Garcia and Charlie Valencia calling the WEC home. Adams also spoke of possibly hosting a WEC card in Mexico in the future.

In addition to these moves the WEC has also solidified it’s presence with a deal with Cadena Tres to become the network television home for the WEC in Mexico. The Cadena Tres deal started with WEC 35 and runs through 2009.

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