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UFC European Expansion Contingent On TV Deals

Dana White addressed concerns about the UFC's perceived lack of attention from European fans.

NEW YORK NY:  Dana White UFC President speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK NY: Dana White UFC President speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
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UFC President Dana White has often spoken about the vital role Europe plays in the UFC's plans for world domination of the sport. Yet the tally of shows across the pond doesn't seem to reflect the sentiment, as Saturday's Birmingham offering served as the first European event of 2011, down from the two in 2010 and four in 2009. With the grumblings growing louder, White took a moment to clarify the lack of European attention and indicated it could soon come to an end.

"Everybody is always asking me about the U.K. 'When are you bringing this and that, and you don't come over here enough,'" he explained at the UFC 138 post-fight press conference. "The thing is that we have to secure the right television deal over here. If you look at any of the markets we've been in, we've stayed in this market a long time. We dug it out here for a while. We've got to get the right television deal here. Now that we're with Fox, let's see what happens and see what we can get done.

While the UFC has partnered with mega-networks such as Fox, South America's Globo and Canada's Rogers Sportsnet near their home-turf, the Eastern hemisphere's broadcast grid has been slower to jump onboard the bandwagon. Currently the UFC has a television partnership with the U.K. branch of ESPN, however the network doesn't quite carry the immense muscle overseas that it does in the United States. But, as White indicated, with the Fox deal peeking over the horizon, change could come swiftly on the European broadcast front.

In the meantime, the UFC President is focused on bringing more shows to MMA-starved regions, including Italy. "We actually had some gentlemen (from Italy) here this evening," White coyly said. "Hopefully they like what they saw tonight."

Likewise, with another England show in the books, White has turned his gaze towards Ireland, which hasn't hosted an event since early-2009's UFC 93. Though, of course, anything that happens in 2012 will solely depend on progress in the network trenches.

"I want to go back to Ireland. Ireland was great. We had a great crowd down there," White concluded. "We'll see, as soon as we can. Again, it all depends on getting the right TV deal here in the U.K."