LAS VEGAS – The UFC’s first trip to France essentially took the UFC’s entire existence — and of course, it wasn’t the promotion’s fault.
But don’t expect a long wait for the UFC to get back there, Dana White said. Legal MMA is finally happening in France in 2020, and while the UFC isn’t the one to break the major MMA caps — that honor goes to Bellator — most agree that Saturday’s French debut was a resounding success.
UFC Fight Night 209 at the Accor Arena in Paris thrilled the crowd as home fan favorite Ciryl Gane defeated Tai Tuivasa in the third knockout round of the main event .
White said he expects the UFC to be back there in the near future, thanks in part to the overwhelming response from French fans.
“It’s incredible,” White said Tuesday after Dana White’s Contender Series 53 in Las Vegas. “The energy is probably as big and as bad as anything we’ve ever done. There’s a lot of pent-up demand (for MMA) and frustration in France, you feel it on Saturday night. The thing I’ve always been proud of is , when we go into a market like France, you see how educated the fans are – all these little things happening locally and people are reacting to it. That’s what I like.
“It’s a different vibe in Europe. You guys know how good it is (in the US) and then when you go to Europe the fans are different than they are here. They sing, they chant – it’s just a different hum and energy. Very interesting. I keep telling people, ‘If you’ve never fought in Europe, you have to go. ‘”
White says a return to the French capital, Paris, the largest urban city, and one of the most popular and legendary in the world, will happen – but it won’t be The location of the UFC’s next trip to the country.
Instead, he said, the promotion is likely to go to another city for a smaller event before returning to the City of Lights for a major Card.
Paris is by far the largest city in the country with more than 13 million people. But Lyon has more than 2 million people and Marseille, on the Mediterranean coast, has nearly 2 million people.
“We have to figure out what’s going to happen next, but you know how we like to do it: we like to move it,” White said. “So we might be in a different city — maybe in a different Cities (in France) host a fight night or other event, then go there again on a high pay-per-view basis in Paris. “
For more information on the cards, visit MMA Junkie’s UFC Fight Night 209 Event Center.