UFC 193: Building a legacy for Australian MMA

The UFC makes its long awaited return to Australia this weekend at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium. Headlined by UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey taking on the undefeated Holly Holm, and Women’s Flyweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her crown against Valerie Letourneau, UFC 193 marks the promotion’s third stadium super-show, following the first stadium venture of UFC 129 in 2011 which drew over 55,000 to the Rogers Centre in Torota Canada, and most recently, UFC on Fox: Gustafsson vs. Johnson which drew in the region of 30,000 fans to the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 24 this year. With the Australian state of Melbourne lifting the ban on fenced safety enclosures, the announcement of UFC 193 was a statement of intent to reboot Mixed Martial Arts in the region. Not only this, but UFC 193 will be a milestone for women’s sport as the promotion aims to draw up to 50,000 fans to witness a main and co-main event contested solely by the sports top female athletes. Joe Minehan, President of International Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Australia (MMAFA) discussed how UFC 193 has significant potential for building a legacy for the sport in Australia that lasts well beyond November 15. Not only will this event have the responsibility of bringing exposure to the UFC, but its legacy has the power to ensure that the grass roots flourish. “The exposure that this event gives MMA in Australia is immeasurable,” Minehan explained. “I was speaking with Jeremy and Dan, coaches from Absolute MMA Gym in Melbourne and they are gearing up for the increase in students that the UFC event will bring. I am also sure that having Ronda Rousey will increase the interest and involvement of women in our sport. It is an ideal time for us to be involved in this sport to put in place the structure and processes for our amateur sport to grow. “Highlighting Australian talent on the UFC card will show Australia that we can be competitive at the elite level and that a career path to this elite is possible, and the IMMAFA is their path from the grass roots amateurs, through organised events leading to the IMMAF World Championships. What we also need is some genuine Australian champions and heroes that the average player can aspire to become. Having Aussies fighting on that UFC stage will help create our own icons.”

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