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UFC in Russia? Hawaii? Nothing set, but there's reason for optimism


While the UFC has spread across the globe and hit new locales every year, the schedule has had two noticeable omissions.

Domestically? There’s Hawaii. Internationally? There’s Russia.

But during a recent appearance on “UFC Tonight,” UFC President Dana White suggested the octagon could soon touch down in both locales, where MMA has some built-in and rather large fan bases.

“We’re going to both,” White said. “The question is which one first. My whole team is over in London right now working on a Russia deal. They will come home with a deal in Russia. Which one will we fight in first? I don’t know. That remains to be seen.”

Yet, he’s getting plenty of support internally for a show in the Aloha State.

“Obviously everyone’s on board to go work UFC-Hawaii,” he said.

Although Hawaii has some solid MMA roots (MMA legend B.J. Penn is a proud Hawaiian, and current UFC featherweight champion and fan favorite Max Holloway flies the flag proudly), the UFC has never ventured to the state. Although tax and regulatory issues have played a factor, White often cites another one: the lack of a suitable venue.

“They don’t have an arena,” he said after Holloway won he belt in 2017. “They have the outside bowl. I’m terrified to do anything outside with fighting.

“I used to spend a lot of time in Hawaii early on when we bought the company because there were a lot of good fights out there. But it rains every 10 minutes. It’s raining, and then it’s beautiful out. It’s raining, and then it’s beautiful out. It’s scary, man.”

As for Russia, the UFC would have a number of the country’s top fighters to help bolster a lineup. One of the most obvious ones is Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC), who fights Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) for a lightweight title (but the undisputed one?) in April at UFC 223. If Nurmagomedov wins the belt, he could help the company do big business in Russia.

Earlier this year, White suggested reports of a Sept. 15 event in Moscow could be true.

“I’ve been telling you guys for a long time that Russia is an important market to us,” White said. “I want it. I want it to happen. So we’re goofing around out there trying to figure out what we can do.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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