By Daniel Richardson

Kiwi fight fans can expect to see the UFC in New Zealand every two or three years.

The MMA juggernaut takes shows to all corners of the globe - they've covered 131 cities in 22 countries so far - and New Zealand could become a regular stop.

The reason for this is partly down to the commercial success the UFC enjoys on these shores in the form of pay-per-view buys of their marquee events through domestic subscribers and bars.


Speaking ahead of UFC Fight Night 110, which is due to take place at Spark Arena in Auckland today, Joe Carr, senior vice president of international and content for the UFC, said interest in MMA was strong in this part of the world.

"When we do bring an event here, we see the impact it has on the market with the brand awareness," Carr told the Herald on Sunday.

"So it does positively impact our pay-per-view buys, which is why we are committed to coming here regularly.

"New Zealand definitely punches above its weight from that perspective."

Today's card marks the second time the UFC has held a show in Auckland with the first being UFC Fight Night 43 on June 28, 2014.

The now-retired Kiwi James Te Huna (16-9) headlined that event but was submitted in the first round by American veteran Nate Marquardt (35-18-2) in a middleweight bout.

That card was lighter on experienced fighters compared to today's line-up and Carr said the UFC had been proactive in trying to improve the depth of their cards - on paper - in the past two years.

In 2014, the company staged nearly 50 events but the optimal figure was closer to 41 to allow for a higher quality of athletes on display.

"When you think about the UFC from a brand perspective, what we pride ourselves on is having the best 500 fighters in the world from over 40 countries."

One other key ingredient to putting on a card in a small market like New Zealand is the local flavour to drive interest.

Today's main event is the perfect storm because it pits Kiwi heavyweight Mark Hunt (12-11-1, 1 NC) against Derrick Lewis (18-4, 1 NC) and both fighters are ranked in the top seven of the division.

The co-main event features top-15 ranked middleweights Dan Kelly (13-1) and Derek Brunson (16-5), while the No 8-ranked flyweight Tim Elliott (14-7-1) and No 12 Ben Nguyen (17-6) will also meet on the main card.

"The fans here in New Zealand are particularly sophisticated and they know what we have to offer so we have to make sure that we are delivering UFC-caliber events here," Carr said.

It's not a guaranteed recipe for success because anything can happen in a fight but Carr and his team are comfortable with their formula and Kiwi fans are the ones who will benefit.