With the UFC slowly making a return to hosting international events, the promotion is focused on reigniting plans of expanding to new markets.
Speaking at the UFC 275 post-fight press conference, UFC Senior Vice President, International and Content David Shaw discussed the UFC’s goal to return to a regular international schedule. Shaw mentioned pre-pandemic locations like Brazil and Australia as priorities, but also suggested new locales such as Thailand were on the UFC’s radar.
One highlight of the UFC’s week in Singapore was the Road to the UFC series, which showcased a number of Asian fighters ahead of UFC 275. Shaw was asked if the series might expand to other countries, which led into a question about the UFC’s future plans for Africa.
“When it comes to Africa, yeah, it’s a destination,” Shaw said. “You saw the NFL talking about some of the activations they’re gonna bring to (start there). We’ve got a few different destinations we’ve been working with, a few parties on to get a better understanding of what’s required to get an event there. But it’s still gonna be a late-2023 thing at the earliest, I believe.”
The Covid-19 pandemic greatly limited the UFC’s options for hosting events, and the promotion was limited to Florida, Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi for the first year after the pandemic began. Other locations in the U.S slowly followed, and they’ve only recently started going back to international destinations other than Abu Dhabi with cards in London and Singapore.
The UFC may not have made it to the continent yet, but three of the promotion’s current champions were born in Africa. Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is from Cameroon, while middleweight and welterweight champions Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman were both born in Nigeria.
The UFC’s roster includes a number of African fighters, and it’s notable that all three champions have expressed their desire to fight in Africa sooner rather than later.
What do you think of the UFC’s future plans for a card in Africa?