Barranquilla, Colombia: Much like the rest of South America (except Brazil) Colombia’s MMA scene is still developing. We have seen fighters such as Bryan Barberena, Sabina Mazo, Javier Blair, JCR, Jeff Molina, Danny Chavez and Freddy Serrano all make their mark as pioneers of Colombian MMA. Yet for those that may not know Colombia, especially Barranquilla has a long lineage of boxers who have succeeded and become champions. Barranquilla also has a soccer stadium that could house 50K fans if the organization ever made an appearance in front of the Cafeteros. Colombian fans are some of the most passionate worldwide and if they were given the opportunity to see and cheer their fellow countrymen it would make for a memorable event. The amount of tourism and attractions would also bring in more possible eyes and sponsors as well.
Lagos, Nigeria: Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman and Francis Nganou. These seem like the perfect three horsemen to finally bring the UFC to Africa. Considering both Izzy and Kamaru are from Nigeria and have been campaigning relentlessly to bring an event to the continent, why not host it at the Lagos National Stadium which fits 55K people. The first-ever event in Africa could do astronomical numbers given the right card as well as promotional and marketing push. The three fighters that I mentioned are all household names and mainstream fighters in America, so their star power in Africa is sure to be double.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Much like the US, Brazil and Russia, the Netherlands has not only produced tremendous talent but has also made its mark with its top-level kickboxing. While the UFC may no longer have a dutch champion (Bas Rutten, Germain De Randamie) it does not mean the Euro fans wouldn’t flock to the Johan Cruyff stadium which houses 55,500 fans. Considering the lineage that has come from that country, I truly believe that the Netherlands are one of the countries that deserves a major event.
Havana, Cuba: The island of Cuba has produced some of the best competitors on earth. If you look at their Olympic history alone you’ll find that it is full of gold, silver and bronze medals in sports like boxing and wrestling. If the promotion was ever to make its debut they might just have to resign the likes of Yoel Romero and Hector Lombard, on the card would, of course, be Jorge Masvidal who is American born but has deep family ties to the country.
Rome, Italy: I don’t care how corny or repetitive this may sound, but we need a UFC event in the colosseum. MMA is the closest thing we fans will get to modern-day gladiators in combat, so an event either at the colosseum or one of Italy’s best soccer stadiums would bring fans into a frenzy as Italians love (google Calcio Storico) combat sports. MMA is taking over the country that was once ruled by some of the slickest boxers around, but with a fighter like Marvin Vettori and the right opponent would fill any arena in the country.
Athens, Greece: Olympics, Pankration. What more does a country need to do to get its own UFC event. While its professional talent may not be up to the standards of some other countries, it doesn’t mean fans wouldn’t flock to the event and with the Olympic stadium housing nearly 70k attendees, it could be a very profitable night for the company.
Mumbai, India: The UFC is always looking to break into bigger and more profitable markets around the globe. Look no further than one of India’s largest and most populated cities. Much like other countries on this list, India is still developing its MMA talent pool but what better way to motivate or show a new generation the greatest sport in the world than to host a massive event in one of the most mystic places on Earth.
Dagestan: I understand that this may be one of the trickier places to host an event considering the current events surrounding Russia as well as the fact that Dagestan only has a population of around 4 million. But let’s be real for a second, has any other country produced more terrifying human beings than Dagestan? Imagine the card of Dagestan vs the world we could see fighters like Islam Mackachev, Zabit Magomedovshapirov, and Magomed Ankalaev to name a few and imagine Khabib coming out of retirement for one last fight.
Istanbul, Turkey: One of the largest cities in the world, Istanbul seems like a perfect location for a major UFC event. Considering the success the UFC has found with a place like Abu Dhabi, Turkey could easily be a bigger success considering the country has a stadium that can host 75K people in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, and with a population of 15 million the organization could easily make this into a cash cow.