'Gutted' Zelaznik admits UK UFC event unlikely this year

ESPN staff
June 7, 2011
British MMA fans may have to wait until 2012 for the next UFC event to come to the United Kingdom © UFC

The UFC is unlikely to be heading to the UK during 2011 as originally planned, Marshall Zelaznik regretfully revealed to ESPN.

Zelaznik had begun the year with the ground-breaking plan of bringing "four-to-six events" to the UK, anticipating that he could deliver a handful of Fight Night cards over the course of 12 months. Even now, that remains the UFC chief's long-term dream.

However, he always pointed to major obstacles that needed to be overcome, primarily finding suitable dates and venues, and then matching them with the demands of relevant TV partners.

Those obstacles forced the UFC to rein in its ambitions earlier in the year, with Zelaznik working around the clock to create an event on October 15, most likely in Liverpool or London. "We had three good venue options," explained Zelaznik to ESPN.

The UFC chief was so close to making that card take place that he even announced on the ESPN UFC Podcast that there would "definitely be at least one event in the UK this year".

However, problems emerged in May when the UFC's US TV date was forced to change to a different, specific date, where misfortune would dictate no suitable venues in the UK were available. In one swift changing of the goalposts, the UFC went from having three venues to none.

As a result, Zelaznik admits the chances of a 2011 event now stand at "less than 20 per cent", but he is still looking into every possibility, in order to find a solution that is growing increasingly unlikely.

"We are left with trying to convince our [TV] partner to move the date or look to other locations. That is where we are now.

"There is, if I were to put a percentage on it, less than a 20 per cent chance that we will be able to bring an event to the UK this year. We are all gutted over it and the fans who are being so vocal should know we hear them and we will continue to work hard to satisfy them."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.