UFC planning 31 events for 2013, continued international expansion

UFC fans will have 31 opportunities to make signs like this in 2013. - Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

If you were thinking lower ratings and buyrates would mean less televised UFC in the year ahead, think again.

If you've seen any of Dana White's interviews the past year, he's had a consistent answer when pressed about the UFC doing too many shows, usually one that involves a few f-bombs and a resounding no.

A recent Sports Business Journal article on UFC sponsorship (covered in-depth by MMA Payout) revealed that the organization will stay in the same range with 31 planned pay-per-view, Fox, FX and Fuel events in 2013. Assuming there are no cancellations the rest of 2012, the UFC will have 31 live events which doesn't include the canceled UFC 151 show.

In a recent MMA Fighting piece by Dave Meltzer, he detailed the UFC's aggressive international expansion plans which include "market specific events" in England, India, Brazil and Asia using The Ultimate Fighter as a platform. In talking with the major players, Meltzer writes that 5-7 events are expected in Brazil because of the current interest level and eventually 4-8 Asian-specific shows as interest builds.

How do they plan on doing that? Simple. Build local stars via TUF.

The battle plan in most markets is to copy how the U.S. was built, working with a local broadcaster on a market-specific Ultimate Fighter season, like was done first in Brazil and is currently airing in Australia. The next step is using the stars created on those shows to headline live events in markets all over the country, not just in the biggest cities as has been done in most new markets so far.

In some markets, they may have one or two main events with well-known UFC stars as headliners and all local fighters on the undercard. Some markets may do shows exclusively with fighters from that country and hoping to build around them and create them as the big stars. The feeling is that will give the company the ability to create local heroes and a grassroots following for them, the best of which would then move on to appear on the bigger pay-per-view shows.

The UFC is currently airing a UK vs. Australia season which will see the finals wrap in mid-December and are planning for their first TUF foray into India. They also just wrapped tryouts for the second season of TUF Brazil.

Does the thought of more international UFC interest you? Not make a dent in your interest level? Are you wondering how you could possibly watch all of the action? Comment below and let's hear what you think.

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