Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Another day, another nation targeted in the UFC's worldwide expansion tour. According to UFC president Dana White, next up is South Africa, which boasts a quietly booming MMA scene and an emerging economy.
White said within the last week, the promotion has begun discussions to launch a deal that would bring UFC television programming to the country, a move that would likely lead into a possible live event.
"Actually, mixed martial arts is huge in South Africa right now," he said. "There’s a show down there now that I just heard about that is doing 1.2 million viewers every time it’s on. So the sport is booming all over the world, and yeah, South Africa is next. That’s where we’re going."
The show he is referring to, Extreme Fighting Championship, has so far produced 14 events. According to a news report, a recent March event drew 1.6 million viewers -- 25.9 percent of the television audience -- a rating that beat popular sports like rugby and cricket.
South Africa has a population of just less than 50 million, according to The World Bank.
White also reiterated a previous statement that the promotion would be hosting an event in India "very soon."
Those two markets are among several new global initiatives in recent months, from the recent announcement of a TUF pitting teams from Australia and the UK to the explosion of the brand in Brazil.
According to the UFC, their programming is currently available in over 150 countries and 22 different languages.
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