UFC sets September date for Russian landing
Mixed martial arts' UFC will stage its highly-anticipated inaugural event in Russia in September, it was announced today.
UFC Fight Night Moscow will take place at the capital's Olimpiyskiy Arena on 15 September, with tickets to go on sale next month.
In addition, as part of its growth plans for Russia, UFC has named Andre Gromkovski as vice-president, UFC Russia. He will be based in Moscow, and is tasked with "leading the regional strategic plan" of the business.
UFC, which is owned by Endeavor, formerly WME-IMG, the combined Hollywood talent agency and international sports and entertainment company, claims to have a fan base of "more than 22 million" people in Russia, driven by the recent success of local fighters such as lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and heavyweight Alexander Volkov.
David Shaw, senior vice-president, UFC international and content, said: “Russia is a key part of UFC’s international expansion strategy. The demand from our fans to bring a live event to Russia has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential this market holds for us, we knew this was the perfect time to bring UFC Fight Night to Moscow.”
In an exclusive interview with Sportcal in March, Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s chief operating officer, said plans were in place to hold the first event in Russia this year, as the organisation pursues a strategy of developing its international presence and revenues.
He said at the time: “Now we’re able to pursue opportunities that we couldn’t in the past. In Russia, we increased the TV deal with Match TV [the Russian free-to-air sports broadcaster backed by Gazprom Media] and we also get better activation, distribution and shoulder programming. We’re doing our first event in Russia this year; we’re hoping it will be in Moscow or St Petersburg.”