UFC targets Sydney date in late 2014, promises return to New Zealand


james-te-huna-nate-marquardt-ufc-fight-night-43

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – With the UFC’s first New Zealand event in the books, the promotion is promising a return to the nation. But first for the region is another visit to the Australian city of Sydney.

“I can’t confirm anything just yet, but we’ll be here in the back half of the year, back to Sydney,” UFC Managing Director of Operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand Tom Wright said at today’s post-UFC Fight Night 43 press conference in Auckland. “The date hasn’t been finalized just yet.”

The UFC has previously held five events in Australia, with three of those taking place in Sydney. The company hasn’t visited the city since March 2012, instead traveling to Brisbane and Gold Cost for more recent events.

Wright did not reveal any other details about the targeted date other than to confirm it would not be a pay-per-view card and instead a UFC Fight Night event that could potentially air in the U.S. on FOX Sports 1 or stream on UFC Fight Pass.

“It would not be a pay-per-view,” Wright told MMAjunkie. “In terms of the card, you know who makes those decisions – Sean (Shelby) and Joe (Silva) and Dana (White). I’ll do my lobbying for the kind of fighters I’d like to see there, but in the end, I trust those guys. They’re the best in the business.”

Saturday’s “UFC Fight Night 43: Te Huna vs. Marquardt” event, which saw Nate Marquardt upset James Te Huna in the headliner, took place at Vector Arena in Auckland. It was the promotion’s first trip to the country, which boasts a population of 4.5 million, but Wright said it was an enjoyable experience.

“The crowd was great,” Wright said. “The building was probably 80 percent full by the second fight. It was incredibly loud. Knowledgable. You could tell, when certain things were going on, the crowd reacted appropriately because it was a knowledgable crowd. That’s one thing you’ve found in this part of the world. Kiwis love our sport. They’re knowledgable, they’re engaged, and they showed it tonight.”

According to Wright, UFC Fight Night 43 drew an attendance of 8,098 and a live gate of $1.04 million New Zealand dollars, which is the equivalent of nearly $913,000 U.S. Wright said the results were ample enough to earn a return trip from the promotion, perhaps as early as next year.

“We’re definitely coming back here,” Wright said. “We’re putting together our schedule for 2015. If it’s not 2015, it will be 2016 for sure.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 43, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

(Pictured: James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt)

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