UFC

UFC Euro Fight Night series coming

UFC Executive Vice President Garry Cook
UFC's EVP in charge of the European, Middle Eastern & African regions, Garry Cook.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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MANCHESTER, England

The UFC's plans for international expansion continue to be molded into shape as UFC's executive vice president in charge of the European, Middle Eastern and African regions Garry Cook laid out a plan designed to grow the market and eventually stage events that would be specifically produced for local markets. In other words, not designed for U.S. audiences.

The plan would be to create a UFC Fight Night series with a minimum of six events in 2014, and the objective would be to give the UFC's European broadcast partners primetime programming and create regional stars.

Presently, most UFC events that are broadcast live from North America air from 3-6 am in the U.K. The proposed European Fight Night event series wouldn't require such time sacrifices, and would air at a more standard time for sporting events in primetime. Cook said the Fight Night shows could possibly air on Friday or Saturday nights.

For 2014, London has already been targeted for kicking off the series in the spring, while Istanbul was also mentioned as a likely landing spot. Other cities including Dublin, Lodz, Glasgow and Berlin are also frontrunners for events.

The hope is that contenders rise in the areas that host shows and begin to open up and develop markets.

"I think there's got to be a little bit more purpose in our European events," he said. "You have to be fighting for a reason, for something, and that's important. We can't have a tournament, as you well know. It's very difficult to do that, but we do see the opportunity to create more European champions."

Cook said he believed it would not be long until the UFC was doing 12 to 16 events per year in the region.

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