Cage fighting entrepreneur Dana White believes the debut Ultimate Fighting Championship show to be held in Sydney in February will prompt a wave of local athletes to abandon traditional sports in pursuit of the millions on offer in the bloodsport.
The mixed martial arts franchise is the fastest growing sports organisation in the world, and White last year knocked back an offer of $US1.2 billion ($1.3m) for the rights.
Now he is heading to town intent on stealing talented athletes who would have otherwise turned to football and boxing. ''It's like coming in and setting off a bomb, like a virus, this thing will spread, and you're going to see a lot of good athletes coming out of there,'' White said. ''Because the reality is you can make millions of dollars doing this, millions of dollars. How many sports in Australia can you say people are playing, where if you're good enough, you can earn millions and millions of dollars?''
The show will be held at Acer Arena at Sydney Olympic Park on February 21. Former Brisbane Broncos wrestling coach Chris Haseman, a mixed martial arts fighter with a 20-16 record, will have a rematch with Elvis Sinosic on the card, while the headline fight will be announced at an official launch in a fortnight.
White said: ''This is the most viable sports franchise on the planet. I'll give you an example, Lyoto Machida is the [UFC light-heavyweight] champion, he is 16-0. In boxing, if you're 16-0 you're still fighting bums. At 16-0, Machida is the champion and earning a shitload of money. You're going to see a lot of Australians coming out and fighting.''
And the UFC won't be using the gimmick of footballers in exhibition bouts, or approaching Australian boxers to compete against their trained cagefighters. ''We don't do the freak show thing, man,'' White said. ''I wouldn't put a boxer in there, he would be defenceless.''
read full article..