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Dana White planning UFC event in Russia: ‘It will be huge’
Ahead of the landmark UFC 205 event in Madison Square Garden last weekend, UFC President Dana White took part in countless media interviews to promote the show. However, during a handful of those interviews, White revealed interest in hosting a UFC event in the Russian Federation in 2017.
“Our big focus after New York is going to be Russia and China,” White told CBS Sports last Friday. “This thing is massive in Russia right now. “
Russia, particularly the North Caucasus region, has proven to be a significant breeding ground for quality MMA talent. The country also has flourishing regional scene despite an ongoing economic recession. Promotions such as M-1 Global, Fight Nights, and ACB produce impressive and expensive shows that have helped add to MMA’s popularity in the region. However, most of the funding for such tournaments is financed by unsavory oligarchs and politicians with questionable interests in sports.
Naturally, the UFC is interested in capitalizing on a proven MMA market, so much so that White and new owner Ari Emanuel are expected to visit Russia in the next few weeks.
“Ari and I are going to Russia in the next couple of weeks,” White explained at the UFC 205 post-fight press conference. “We’re working on some real big moves here in the next few months.”
While Russian media claimed that the UFC was considering Grozny, Chechnya for its first Russia event, BloodyElbow contacted the UFC and confirmed that the information was false. However, the promotion will likely select between St. Petersburg, Moscow and Sochi for their first venture.
“I promise you this: when we roll into Russia, we’re going to make it big.”