News this week hit the wire straight from the beast itself. The UFC will air a Spanish-language version of its SpikeTV show UFC Unleashed on Fox Sports en Espanol. The UFC’s own website released the news on Wednesday. The news comes on the heels of an announcement by the IFL that they will be airing events on HBO’s own Latin American channel. Is there a coincidence that this was announced around the same time as the IFL’s own press release? Most likely, but it begs to ask some serious questions regarding the UFC’s status on entering the Latin American market and breaking into a different demographic, the Spanish-speaking American population.
UFC’s initiative to bring MMA to Spanish-Americans
It has long been rumored that the UFC may be entering the Latin American market in the coming year. With great fighters such as Roger Huerta at the helm of a possible expansion into the region, it seems only likely that the UFC would begin their push south with some marketing and promotion to the same type of demographic that they will see in Mexico and the other Latin American regions. Promoting to the Spanish-speaking communities only looks to be a precursor to a much larger push.
The natural progression of word of mouth can be powerful. Add in the television deal with Fox Sports en Espanol to the mix, and it could create some much needed hype in a community that may be an untapped gem. Grabbing up droves of Spanish-speaking fans in the United States could produce more fans south of the border, and will definitely create interest around the Spanish stars of the UFC that seem to excite any type of crowd why they fight.
Is this a ploy to stop other promotions?
With other promotions moving into different territories to avoid the monster that is the UFC, this could be a move to start the assault on those strategic movements by other organizations. We’ve seen the UFC begin to move into England, and have talked about plans of moving into Italy, Germany, and other European markets. M-1 announced that they have plans to hold smaller shows in Germany, Holland, and Russia in the coming year, as well as bigger shows from the talent that is produced from those shows. We have yet to see the UFC begin planning on delivering on their promise to hit the European market, but it should be in the works for next year at some point.
The IFL is also making the move to avoid pitting themselves against a saturated U.S. MMA market. A deal with HBO Latin America has been viewed as a precursor to a full blown HBO deal for the IFL, but the fact is that the IFL’s talent and financial problems still seem to hurt the promotions final product. Can they succeed in re-energizing their promotion with that type of deal? Not if the UFC has anything to say about it.
If the UFC happens to enter the Latin American market later in the year, the stars of the UFC will already have a buzz around them due to the current deal they have made with Fox Sports en Espanol. Not only that, but they will also have at their disposal a stable of fighters of Spanish descent that can become superstars in the countries in Latin America. Put those fighters together with the premier promotion in mixed martial arts, the money that the UFC has produced in order to put on a top-notch event, their marketing reach, and the much more relevant matchups that they can create with their talent pool, and we have the juggernaut that is the UFC dominating a market that simply has the IFL in it for now.
Rally the troops!
By making a deal with Fox Sports en Espanol, the UFC is, in a way, rallying the troops behind their promotion before entering the Latin American market. Grabbing up support in the States could be an effective way of guaranteeing some good turnouts to events south of the border, and a way to promote the Spanish stars of the UFC. With the IFL’s poor talent base and very injury prone stable of fighters, it could be lights out if the UFC begins a quick push into the market. The IFL, after all, is already on the move to go under by the end of 2008 if they cannot turn things around.