A string of wildly successful events in Canada prompted UFC President Dana White to crown the country “The Mecca of MMA” a few years ago.
Since the UFC began returning to Brazil routinely last August, White has been singing the praises of the country that produced UFC champions like Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Jose Aldo.
Now, it’s Australia’s turn to receive some recognition.
According to UFC Managing Director of International Development Marshall Zelaznik, Australia is the UFC’s biggest market in the world on a per capita basis:
“It is not only one of our fastest growing markets, but it’s pound-for-pound our biggest market.
When you look at the number of inhabitants, the TV homes, the pay television universe and the amount of revenue that the country generates for the UFC, it is without question the top hitter in the international or even domestic world.”
The UFC held their first show in Australia in February 2010, with more than 17,000 people filling the Acer Arena in Sydney for an event that saw then-prospect Cain Velasquez knock-out former Pride and UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira early in the first round of the main event.
More than 18,000 people returned one year later when BJ Penn and Jon Fitch battled to a draw in the main event of a fight card remembered for the heated rivalry between Michael “The Count” Bisping and Jorge Rivera. It was also the event where veterans Mark Hunt and Anthony “Hippo” Perosh each earned their first UFC victories. Both have subsequently gone on to win two more bouts and enter their respective upcoming summer match-ups on impressive three-fight winning streaks.
In early March, the UFC returned to the renamed Allphones Arena with their third event in as many years, headlined by Martin Kampmann’s final minute guillotine choke victory over Thiago Alves, and the semifinal round of the tournament to crown the inaugural flyweight champion in UFC history.
There has been speculation all year that the UFC would return to Australia for a second time in 2012, bringing an event to Brisbane for the first time. That event is still in the works, with no announcements or confirmations made at this time.
With the success of the first international season of The Ultimate Fighter (Brazil), talk has once again heated up around TUF: Australia, with a fistic take on “The Ashes” still being discussed.
Australian UFC middleweight Kyle Noke discussed both in an interview conducted earlier this month that will be coming to The Roar later this week.
As more information on the potential Brisbane show and an Australian season of The Ultimate Fighter becomes available, you’ll hear about it here on The Roar.