The UFC has taken baby steps to expanding its market in the Zuffa era. Whether that be through The Ultimate Fighter international editions or expanding the UFC’s events abroad, the promotion has made an effort to push into foreign markets.

Although the UFC has traversed the globe, there are still a few places where the promotion has yet to construct its Octagon and host an event. However, some of those places might be worth the UFC’s attention.

In the past year, we’ve seen the UFC take its show to places like Brazil, Japan and Sweden—international markets that could pay huge dividends if the UFC can gain a foothold.

In the case of Brazil, there is already a hotbed of MMA fanatics willing to pay top dollar to come watch. In the case of Japan, the UFC is trying to revitalize a market that hasn’t been the same since the buyout of Pride FC. In the case of Sweden, the UFC is trying to create a new market in a brand new place that hasn’t really been explored before by a major promotion.

The UFC has played it smart so far, slowly trying to make its way into different areas of the world. Most have had some sort of star on the UFC roster, whereas others had multiple fighters that could be considered top-five or top-10 talent in their division.

The UFC’s attempt to break into these markets has the potential to bring with it more possible fans for the promotion and the possibility of creating more fighters to help bolster its future roster.

The question here isn’t whether or not what the UFC is doing is working—it is—but what the promotion should do as it moves forward. What new markets should the UFC explore?

There are a few places that the UFC should consider, while also continuing to develop its presence in the countries where it has already planted its flag.

One of these places is a huge hotbed for boxing and could potentially be a big place for MMA: Mexico. Going south of the border could be a huge deal considering how much Mexico loves boxing. Boxers like Canelo Alvarez, Erik Morales and Julio Cesar Chavez have come from Mexico and have been beloved by the country and other fans alike. The UFC has some stars that could potentially convert Mexico from a nation of boxing fans into a nation that also loves mixed martial arts. Among these stars is heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who is a Mexican-American himself. Fighting in Mexico would be a career highlight for Velasquez. The crowd would be insane, just as they are for every major boxing card that has been held in Mexico. It wouldn’t be as crazy as Brazil is when one of their own fights, but it still could be utterly ridiculous.

There are other places the UFC could go too, like Russia or further into mainland China. China hasn’t exactly had the star fighter the UFC could use, but the huge population and the endless possibilities the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: China could bring make it a really tantalizing option. Russia has produced fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, and Bellator has unearthed some pretty good talent hiding out in M-1 that could develop into contenders on the UFC roster. Fighters like Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov and undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov have shed on light on the talent that is waiting in the depths of Russia.

If the UFC can break into a couple new markets each year while bolstering what it already has, then MMA can become the global sport the promotion wants it to be. The UFC also needs to make sure it visits the places they haven’t been to in a while, like Germany and the United Arab Emirates, which haven’t had a UFC event since 2010.

The UFC can’t neglect entire parts of the world. Although the promotion does a great job of in the places it has already visited, continued expansion is key. We keep hearing about how MMA is a global sport, but if that’s so, then the UFC needs to break into those big countries where it has yet to go. It should also make stops in less obvious but just as important locales, such as South Africa and the Philippines. Making headway into regions such as these, and putting on successful shows once there, will be the true sign that the sport has gone global.

Photo: UFC President Dana White holds up a Brazilian flag (Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.