European Ultimate Fight Nights

July 22, 2010

ESPN UK recently sat down with the UFC’s Managing Director in the UK, Marshall Zelaznik, and discussed his plans for the start of a European “Fight Night” series.

“We’re working towards bringing together a series of UK and European Fight Nights. My hope is that, come October, we’ll be able to put some real heat on this. Talks are underway,” he told ESPN.co.uk.

 

“My hope is that it will provide four to six guaranteed UFC events in the UK next year. We’re hoping to hold one more European event [in addition to UFC 120] before the end of the year, and then we’ll get these extra nights planned for next year.

 

“We’d like to come to Liverpool, Scotland, Newcastle, Birmingham, these places provide 10,000-seaters which will be great for Fight Nights.”

Payout Perspective:

I like the idea of local fights for a number of reasons:

1. Talent development
2. Market development and education
3. Television/content fodder

These events don’t have to be broadcast live. In fact, the model the UFC is projecting for itself in the future necessitates that some events will have to be taped for later broadcast. Not only will it be difficult to broadcast everything live (or even broadcast entire events, period), but it’s also likely the talent level for a great many of these European “Fight Night” events will not be able to match the quality that people have come to expect from the UFC. The UFC will likely have to pull a great majority of the fighters from Europe (hence the talent development part of the equation), because it wouldn’t make sense to fly over a bunch of the UFC’s regulars from North American fighters unless it’s just a couple to headline the show.

In this case, the UFC can just aggregate the best fights and highlights to produce weekly segments for television viewers around the world; something incredibly useful for providing additional quick and relevant content for the UFC’s growth markets.

Then again, this is perhaps a couple years down the road. Zelaznik did not elaborate, but the UFC may just be switching the 4-6 UFN shows it does in North America to the UK market in 2011. In that case, it may very well use a host of UFC regulars and broadcast the same day in North America.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops. The way the UFC handles these events will give us a glimpse of how it may carry out part of its international expansion. Moreover, I suspect that these events will also help the UFC to stress test its current capabilities and experiment a little bit.

2 Responses to “European Ultimate Fight Nights”

  1. Machiel Van on July 22nd, 2010 8:25 AM

    It really won’t matter whether the shoes are live, because any UFC event on Spike TV already isn’t live. There’s always some delay between the live show and the broadcast. It’s glaringly obvious when they say a fight night will be broadcast at “8pm ET/PT” (it’s right there on the UFC website for the upcoming UFC Fight Night: Maia vs Belcher). You read “8pm ET/PT” and you think “hmmm… I guess Zuffa have become so powerful they can freeze time in one timezone.” I’ve always thought it was a little ridiculous that they announce them this way, and it has caused a few problems for friends of mine who stumble across the results before fights are broadcast. Interestingly, WEC and UFC events broadcast on Versus are actually live, airing at 6pm PT/9pm ET. This is further supported by a few uncensored expletives that have come across the air during live events on Versus over the years.

  2. Machiel Van on July 22nd, 2010 8:26 AM

    For me in Sacramento, if the fights air at 8pm ET that means they are over by the time I see them at 8pm PT.

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