The UFC will return to Newcastle, England, which played host to UFC 80 earlier this month, for an event in 2009.
Marshall Zelanik, the president of the UFC’s U.K. division, confirmed the return trip while speaking to Adam Steel of the The Evening Gazette.
UFC 80 took place Jan. 19 at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena. B.J. Penn defeated Joe Stevenson in the night’s main event to claim the UFC’s vacant lightweight title, and Fabricio Werdum defeated Gabriel Gonzaga with a second-round TKO to move up the heavyweight rankings. Despite a somewhat lackluster undercard, the event turned out to be a fairly solid hit. Only two fights went to a decision, and eight of the night’s nine fights aired on the pay-per-view broadcast.
The event also broke the venue’s box-office record. Without an athletic commission overseeing the event, the official numbers aren’t known. However, the UFC claims a paid attendance of 8,412 for a live gate of approximately $1.25 million.
When the organization does return in 2009, Zelanik specifically mentioned one area fighter who may be on the card: Cage Rage lightweight Abdul Mohamed (15-5-2).
It’s unusual for the UFC to comment on fighters signed to other organizations, but Zelanik left open the door when asked about the Cage Rage champion.
“You never know what the status of some contracts are, so you never want to interfere with anyone’s contract,”Â Zelanik told The Evening Gazette. “We get a lot of interest from managers who lead us on to their fighters. I usually turn that over to our matchmaker Joe Silva and he evaluates them, and he is signing a lot of good fighters now from Europe and the UK.”
UFC President Dana White has publicly stated that the organization is losing “millions of dollars” as it attempts to penetrate the European market. However, in addition to the return trip to Newcastle, White has said that the UFC will hold shows this year in Croatia, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland. Additionally, the UFC is expected to return to London’s 02 Arena for a UFC 85 event on June 14.
(Touch of gloves: FightOpinion.com)Â