The UFC is thriving with an aggressive plan to brand their product worldwide. They are coming off their first event in Stockholm, Sweden, and they are actively planning to hold perhaps the biggest MMA event ever in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year. But what is the state of non-UFC MMA world wide today? MMA as a sport is more recognized than ever, and there are fight events and people training MMA all over the world, in some very exotic and far off lands. But what is going on out there with these shows? Or is it just a matter of time before the UFC is a world wide hegemon?
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Japan was once the promised land, as PRIDE ran some of the biggest shows in the world, and they had a robust scene of smaller MMA events run by companies like SHOOTO, DEEP and PANCRASE. Even after PRIDE went away, organizations World Victory Road and DREAM ran large events. While the smaller events continue, none of the large events have been heard from at all since New Year’s eve. Due to a combination of a weakened national economy, no stars developed and organizations with shady ties, the big MMA event scene in Japan looks effectively dead.
Europe has a few shows that are running, but all have really given up the top spot to the UFC. The KSW event in Poland and M-1 in Russia are probably two of the bigger events running now. But neither run anything remotely like relevant main events. M-1 will headline with Fedor Emilianenko in June. To avoid people talking about whether Fedor is washed up, they hunted down a fighter far more washed up in Pedro Rizzo to be his next opponent.
There are newer events running in Asia, the Indian Super Fight League, and ONE FC, but both are relying on whatever the UFC has not gobbled up to earn name recognition. The misguided Super Fight League is hiring Bobby Lashley for their next event. Unless Lashley is fighting for $500 bucks, which he isn’t, this is not good for the company.
Latin America has some pockets where fight shows are run, Chile, Argentina, Costa RIca, Mexico among other countries all run shows with mainly Latin talent.
So what do I do if I want to bet fights? I gotta admit, I’m gonna stick with the UFC and Bellator and that is about it. The international scene does not have a company that has run long enough or is offering the talent for the betting community to put their money on.