At a press conference held Tuesday in Mumbai, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the SONY SIX channel confirmed a wide-ranging, strategic partnership, which brings the UFC to India.
SIX is the destination for all UFC programming in India, from live events to athlete profile shows including Countdown and Primetime. SIX will also feature the UFC’s retrospective show Unleashed, featuring the greatest fights in the UFC’s 19-year history.
“We are very excited to partner with SIX as the UFC expands into India,” UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. “We look forward to working with them to not only further expand the UFC’s fanbase here, but also to find and develop local talent and, ultimately, bring regular live events to India.”
Mr. Man Jit Singh, CEO Multi Screen Media, the parent company of SIX, said, “We are delighted to bring the UFC – the fastest growing sports organization in the world – to India. India has a lot of appetite for new sports and we are confident that SIX will skew younger audiences with the special programming of the Ultimate fighting Championship on the channel.”
A cornerstone of the new partnership will be the production of an all-Indian edition of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC’s long-running reality TV show where 16 of the most talented unsigned martial artists compete for a contract with the UFC. Previous TUF winners have gone on to win UFC world champions and become international superstars.
TUF India will be the third edition of the long-running sports reality show to take place outside the U.S. with TUF Brazil being a huge success earlier this year and TUF: The Smashes (Australia vs. U.K.) to begin airing in Australia later this month.
TUF India is scheduled for broadcast in 2013 and casting details will be announced soon. Fertitta said SIX’s commitment to the series was crucial for the UFC in the market.
“SIX’s willingness to step up and commit to The Ultimate Fighter India was very important to us,” said Fertitta. “TUF India will help to introduce the sport in India, to showcase the hard work, dedication, athleticism and skills needed to compete in the UFC. It will also cast a spotlight throughout the country, searching for the most talented local martial artists.
“The UFC will be successful in India even without local stars, but what we’ve seen around the world is fans really want to see one of their own get a chance to compete at the highest level. Somewhere out there in a country of 1.2 billion there is a Indian champion, someone who will capture the imagination of the fans and help take the sport to a whole new level.”