Some of you may already be aware of what's been in the USA TODAY
sports section, and most mma websites the last couple of days since UFC on Fuel TV 10. It's no secret that the UFC has had some big expansion plans in the works and we've already seen some take place as Canada, Brazil, Britain and Australia have all been recent targets of the UFC's ambitious expansion plans. Up to this date however, the UFC has not ventured south to the USA's neighbor - Mexico. Finally after years of the world's most prominent MMA promotion teasing the possibility, Mexico could finally be next and as soon as 2014.
Rumors have it that there is a new TV deal and a planned Spanish-language version of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series in talks as we speak and that Fabricio Werdum
is holding out hope he can fight Cain Velasquez
, the UFC's Mexican-American Heavyweight Champion, preferably after being Velasquez's opposing coach at "TUF": Mexico. "TUF": Mexico would of course be a part of the UFC's new 'The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America' series that could take place in Mexico City as soon as next year. In addition to 17 American seasons of its competition/reality series, the UFC has hosted three international installments of "TUF." The second wrapped Saturday in Brazil, and an Australia vs. Britain version took place in 2012. Mexico currently has a quickly growing circuit of regional fight promotions that could benefit nicely from such an expansion.
After last Saturday's event, Werdum (17-5-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC) discussed what's next. The Brazilian has won three straight fights since his return to the organization, and overall, he's 6-1 since ending his first UFC run in 2008. He's ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA heavyweight rankings
and is likely to move up a spot or two on Monday thanks to his win over No. 11 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
(34-8-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC). Velasquez (12-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC), though, is likely to next fight ex-champ Junior dos Santos
(16-2 MMA, 10-1 UFC) in a rubber match. Both fighters recently picked up wins at UFC 160, and the trilogy is a surefire pay-per-view blockbuster. If Velasquez vs. dos Santos III does indeed take place, as I'm sure it will, Werdum will have a much longer wait for his projected title opportunity. Not only would he have to hope that Velasquez posts his second straight victory over dos Santos, he'd have to wait to see if the UFC's plans in Mexico actually materialize. And following recent wins over the likes of Nogueira, Roy Nelson
, Fedor Emelianenko
and Antonio Silva
, another extended trip to the sidelines for Werdum may not be the best course of action for one of the division's hottest contenders.
In January UFC officials went to Mexico for a scouting trip. More than a hundred UFC hopefuls attended, and UFC President Dana White said it could lead the UFC to adopt its ninth weight class, a 115-pound strawweight division, built primarily around Mexican and smaller fighters. Of course, as with other markets, the UFC's success in Mexico could hinge on its ability to build and promote local talent. The UFC also would have a suitable TV presence. This past month the organization announced a joint-venture deal with Televisa Networks. As in Brazil, where the organization has a partnership with media company Globo, the Televisa deal will include free UFC programming on existing channels, including the popular Canal 5 in Mexico, and the launch of a new pay-TV channel. It could launch as soon as September. If the UFC's expansion into Mexico proves successful, it could set the blueprint for the rest of the world. That's especially true of the pay-TV channel.