Marshall Zelaznik, formerly known as the UFC UK president but now officially the ‘Managing Director of International Expansion’, talks about what’s going on in Abu Dhabi with Steve Cofield. For those of you who are used to all of Dana White’s interviews being a dog and pony show designed to make you drink the UFC kool-aid, it’s a pretty big departure. Instead Marshall talks like you’d expect an actual businessman to talk when discussing how the UFC is planning to expand into the ‘cultural mecca’ of the United Arab Emirates.
One topic of discussion that came up was what the frack is going on with a location. As mentioned yesterday, the UFC is moving forward with the idea of an outside venue, although what that makes you think and what that means Abu Dhabi will have built by April are probably two vastly different things. Here’s Zelaznik:
“The majority of the events are held outdoors. The opportunity for us would include the building of an outdoor arena.”
He said it’ll be similar to Las Vegas superfight venues of the ’70s and ’80s.
“You’d have some sort of covering on it. You’d have a pretty intimate live setting. In our current planning, we’d look to have 10,000 seats or more depending on the configuration we go with.”
Zelaznik said the thought that Flash Entertainment and the UAE would have a standard 20,000 seat arena finished by April is far-fetched.
“Make no bones about it, the area we’re looking at is gravel currently. It will be built for a UFC event. It will be dressed in a way that it will feel very special. With the exception of walls and a roof, it will be an arena with raised seating, coliseum-style seating where you have people very close to the action.”
So there you go: there’ll be a ‘covering’, there’ll be 10,000+ seats. As far as I’m concerned, as long as there’s not Star Trek levels of lens flare during the broadcast and fighters don’t have to douse themselves in SPF100 sunscreen or watch out for a sandstorm (cue Wanderlei Silva’s entrance music – ba dum tss), it’s all good.