On December 7th the UFC will be heading back to Australia for UFC Fight Night 33 “Hunt vs. Bigfoot”. UFC Fight Night 33 marks the fifth time that the UFC has held an event in Australia. The UFC has previously held events in Sydney and Queensland, but this weekend’s event will serve as the first time that the UFC has hosted an event in Brisbane.
The importance of a strong Australian market is crucial, as it is a prospective country housing a lot of great talent. Notable UFC fighters such as Kyle Noke, Soa Palelei, Anthony “the Hippo” Perosh, Elvis Sinosic, George Sotiropolous and Robert Whittaker all call Australia home. Female MMA powerhouse Bec Hyatt and Muay-Thai legend John Wayne Parr also fight out of Australia. This weekend’s event will feature seven Aussies and New Zealanders including Mark Hunt, James Te Huna, Anthony Perosh, Soa Palelei and Dylan Andrews, all of which are tough, hard-hitting fighters that always look to put on a show.
Australia has been booming with MMA, and currently has several active organizations promoting local talent. The two most notable active organizations are Valor Fight and the AFC (Australian Fighting Championship). This promotion of local talent is crucial, as it will showcase the best that Australia has to offer, and will make it easier for the UFC to pick up the best local fighters as they continue to expand in Australia and Asia. The UFC is also doing a great job providing young Aussies with opportunities in the Ultimate Fighter: Smashes that pit Team Australia vs. Team UK. The UFC is currently working on the upcoming TUF: Nations “Canada vs. Australia” which will feature Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke as coaches.
The UFC has been working towards “world domination” and is looking to expand further into the Asian markets. Australian fighters are currently thriving in Asia, due to the relative close proximity between Australia and the Asian continent. Singapore-based ONE FC currently possesses 5 Aussies on their roster including King of the Cage veteran Tony Bonello and CFC bantamweight champion Gustavo Falciroli. The Filipino-based URCC (Universal Reality Combat Championship) currently has one Australian champion in the light-heavyweight Nicholas Mann. Both Singapore and the Philippines are target markets for the UFC right now (UFC Fight Night 34 will take place in Singapore, while the Philippine debut has yet to be announced) and Australian fighters seem to be doing just fine on the international level of competition.
Personally, I believe that the UFC is doing a great job at pushing the Australian market. They may not have a lot of Aussie fighters on their roster, but they’re giving the Australian crowd a great card with a ton of solid fighters. This is exactly what the UFC must do in order to stimulate interest in the sport of mixed martial arts in Australia. The Ultimate Fighter: Nations “Canada vs. Australia” will also groom the next set of Australian prospects and will also generate further interest in the MMA community.