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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The 10 percent solution: UFC marries into the Middle East

By Jake Rossen/Sherdog.com

Vitor Belfort vs Rich FranklinTim Heitman for ESPN.comReaching out: Dana White is keen on expanding the UFC's horizons.

In ways financial and residual, the UFC might have literally just struck oil: Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment announced it had purchased a 10 percent stake in Zuffa, parent company of the pay-per-view/live attraction Ultimate Fighting Championship brand.

If this is the first time you've heard of Flash, you're hardly alone: the event organizer, which has the bizarre distinction of being government-subsidized, was founded two years ago to help bolster tourism and cultural attractions in Abu Dhabi, which is not the kind of thing that tends to make our front pages. They've imported Justin Timberlake, Rhianna and Bon Jovi for performances. (And if the UAE has distaste for American culture, we now know why.) The lone sports event was the Capitala World Tennis Championships.


The speculation bouncing around is that the UFC is eyeing Flash as something they've often rejected in the past: A co-promotion. With Flash's network and resources, it may be possible to pollinate the UFC into harder-to-figure countries like China, India and elsewhere.

What does all this mean? If you're American, probably not very much: Flash is unlikely to have any influence on domestic promotion, since the UFC hardly needs advisors in that area. If you're a fan in an MMA-deprived country, it might act as a vehicle to reach cultures that the UFC's current think tank has little experience relating to.

"We're building a global brand," Lorenzo Fertitta told the Associated Press. "It's never been done before in the fight business."

See, New York? Even Kyrgyzstan gets it.