Friday, 19 June 2009


The UFC has an ongoing mission to increase the amount of territory it covers. After visits to the UK, Japan and Brazil in the early UFC days, they expanded again in the last few years, coming to the UK, Canada, Ireland and now Germany. Hopefully France, Philippines, Japan, Brazil to come soon. At the moment we are seeing at least one show a month, but this can often increase to two, if a UK show or fight night is scheduled. When Marshall Zelaznik was appointed UK UFC president, I personally thought it would mean developments on top of the UK shows. So far that does not seem to be the case, but who knows what is secretly in the pipeline. At the fan Q&A session at UFC 99, Dana White hinted that the UFC would return to the UK in October. There are weighty rumours already that the next full show will be UFC 105 in November, at the MEN in Manchester. We are still waiting for official confirmation of this. Many sources think that the October UK show will be the first “Fight Night” show in the UK, possibly in Newcastle. This would be great for fans, as we welcome any UK UFC show. I do think that we could take this a step further though. Here is my suggestion and wish: regular UK specific UFC Fight Nights. Three shows per year. They would be in addition to the larger UFC shows that the UK currently receives roughly every four months. They would be held in the areas that the UFC has previously wanted to access, but have been unable to because the venues that were too small for the big shows. Dana himself has stated that certain smaller UK venues would be perfect for Fight Night size events. This means that the long hoped for Scotland shows would now be possible. The UK Fight Nights would provide a platform for mainly UK (and travelling French) fighters to advance beyond smaller local shows and progress a career with the UFC. If Marshall Zelaznik can take responsibility for the running of these shows, the UK already has the infrastructure of referees, commentators and presenters to cover them, without interfering with the normal shows. Obviously the person chosen as Master Of Ceremonies should ideally be well known, have MMA and MC experience, and preferably be indigenous to the UK. My vote would be for Ian “The Machine” Freeman: British MMA pioneer, UFC veteran and star of multiple Tv shows, films and MMA promotions. He is also the face of the top MMA magazine “Fighters Only.” Ian has had a long and exciting MMA career, from defeating Frank Mir at UFC 38, up to returning from retirement to reclaim the Cage Rage LHW title at the age of 41 in 2008. Although “The Machine” has his own adults audience only show, he is able to adapt his delivery style to one appropriate to the crowd, and of course the organisation. He would not be the first to do this, Joe Rogan the famous UFC colour commentator has a successful career in stand-up comedy, little of which would be suitable for a UFC broadcast! Somewhat more importantly though, Ian has taken on a role as a British MMA ambassador, presenting several shows and being a regular master of ceremonies for North East of England promotion “Strike and Submit”, and most recently for the exhibition match between WAMMA champions Fedor Emelianenko and Shinya Aoki. With the first UK Fight Night rumoured to be held in the North East of England, I can’t think of anyone who would be more appropriate and familiar to fans, and can help get the UK Fight Night format up and running smoothly. Do it Dana!

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