UFC president Dana White has wanted to host an event in Mexico for a long time. He’s been literally be talking about it for years, dating back to nearly a decade ago.
“Coming here has always been a dream of mine. It's the first place that ever made sense to me. Mexico and the U.K. were the first places that made sense to me. Obviously, it took a lot longer than I expected it to, but so did the U.K.,” said White during a UFC 180 press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday.
“The two places that I thought were the no-brainers were the two places that took the longest.”
Mexican-born fighters have a long history and reputation as gritty, hard-nosed, tough match-ups in boxing. And White believes the same will soon be said about the MMA talent currently residing south of the border.
“The baddest dudes in the world, throughout the history of the world, have come from Mexico and Latin America. Your Salvador Sanchezes, your Julio Cesar Chavezes, and the list goes on and on and on,” said the UFC president.
“In the MMA world, all those guys exist in this country right now. And you're going to see them popping up over the next six years. You're going to start to see Mexico dominate, like it did in boxing,” he added. “I'm a little excited about it if you can't tell.”
Part of why White is excited is The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America debuted on Aug. 25 on television in Mexico with seven million viewers tuning in. It was the most viewed program on all of television in Mexico the day the reality series premiered, he said. The only debut episode of the reality show to do better was TUF: Brazil, which he said garnered around 10 million viewers.
Television deals are the key that unlocks a new market for the growing fight promotion, and the Mexican and Latin American market was no different.
“We couldn't have done it without Televisa. These guys are so invested in this sport and they believe in it,” said White. “To be on this network, it's basically like the FOX deal in the U.S. These guys are invested in building the sport. It's huge obviously for us, but also for the people in Mexico.”
The waiting is over for White’s plans to invade Mexico, and he advises MMA fans to get prepared for Latin American fighters rising from south of the border to UFC title contenders.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said the UFC figurehead. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the baddest dudes in the history of the world have come out of Mexico and Latin America. This country is now being exposed to mixed martial arts and the UFC. Get ready baby.
“We’re going to have a lot of world champions coming out of here.”