“World domination!”

That’s typically an expression reserved for an exaggerated villain in a movie, or little Stewie in Family Guy. It’s also something the UFC is trying to accomplish with its MMA promotion. The UFC’s latest effort in promoting its brand is a 24/7 UFC television channel that will soon be launched in Latin America. While the idea of having UFC content available to Latin America at all hours of the day seems like a great way to anchor a fan base in that region, it remains to be seen whether or not it will grow MMA to the level of popularity that boxing currently enjoys in those same areas.

Lorenzo Ferttita, co-founder of Zuffa, believes the new subscription-based UFC channel can’t miss in Latin America.

“The launch of the UFC Channel will be a game changer for our sport and its fans throughout Latin America. We are giving millions of fans across the region complete access to all our live events and programming for the first time,” Ferttita said. “UFC is the fastest growing sports organization in history and with the strength of Latin America’s premier media group Televisa, the UFC Channel will become the fastest growing sports network in television history.”

According to the UFC, the potential fan base exceeds 33.4 million people in Mexico. The television partnership with Televisa will branch out to 20 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America, with the exception of Brazil. The plan is to show 35 live events per year on the new channel, as well as the 20,000-plus hours of content featuring popular fights from the UFC, Pride FC, WEC and Strikeforce. In addition to the fights, there is also talk of having original programming broadcast in Spanish.

Fans in 20 Latin American countries that aren’t sure if they want to pony up for the subscription cost are currently able to watch UFC content (including four live events) on Televisa in Mexico and Golden Channel elsewhere.

The new channel, set to launch later this year, isn’t meant to necessarily take fans away from the boxing-rich environment they have there, but rather to captivate the same type of interest that the Latin Americans have for that sport. The UFC subscription channel has been available in the United States for quite some time, and it’s not something you hear most fans talking about. The reason is the agreement between the UFC and Fox Sports. There is so much programming on the Fox networks that there isn’t a real need to pay anything additional for the subscription channel.

On any given day, one can turn on Fuel TV or their regional Fox Sports channel and see a long block of UFC content. With the launch of Fox Sports 1 this weekend, the availability of UFC content will only grow more. This has been the one of the primary reasons for success with the UFC and Fox agreement. Fans are exposed to fighters and events through lower-tier cable channels for which they may not have otherwise wanted to pay a subscription cost.

The popularity of MMA in Latin America will no doubt increase with additional exposure, especially if the fans there continue to have native fighters that they can relate to and pull for. Bringing a UFC event to Mexico will do as much if not more than this television deal in encouraging the growth of the sport. Subscription-based television channels don’t create much buzz, whereas the live events do.

No matter what the UFC does to bring in more fans in Latin America, the people there will never abandon their beloved boxing. One of the most common things we hear in the States is that MMA is going to kill boxing, or that boxing is dead. The fans in Latin America understand clearly that the sports are not in competition with each other. That would be like saying MMA is going to be the end of soccer. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Fans over there love boxing because it gives many a dream to strive for that they would otherwise not have. Those boxers then travel the world and represent their country in a way that brings many of the people to tears. That passion can be seen when we watch Cain Velasquez walk to the Octagon with Vicente Fernandez’s “Los Mandados” blaring throughout the arena. Removing boxing from the landscape in Latin America would be equivalent to baseball dying in the United States. Regardless of what transpires down the road, those are two sports that will be connected with their respective countries throughout the years.

Will MMA continue to grow throughout Latin America? Absolutely. Will it ever attain the same levels of popularity that boxing has over there? I can’t see that happening. The Latin American countries are too rich in culture and tradition to ever leave their beloved boxing entirely for MMA. However, both sports should continue to prosper simultaneously for years to come.

Photo: Cain Velasquez (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.