The UFC announced yesterday at a San Juan, Puerto Rico press conference the hiring of local former boxing promoter Peter Riviera along with expansion plans to build the brand on the unincorporated U.S. territory.
Flanked by president and CEO Dana White, lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettisand brother Sergio Pettis, Puerto Rico secretary of sports and recreation Ramon Orta, and national boxing hero Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Riviera expressed confidence in the future of building on the U.S. territory.
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Puerto Rico is known for producing exciting boxers and such as Hector “Macho” Camacho, Miguel Cotto, and current WBC, WBA (Super) light-heavyweight champion Danny Garcia.
The Pettis brothers and Dennis Bermudez are showing what Puerto Rico can do in the octagon.
Rivera will manage the brand, including the “co-ordination of all details relating to pay-per-view sales, tryouts, seminars and special presentations of UFC fighters on the island.”
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“The UFC is committed to growing the sport on the island of Puerto Rico,” White said. “I’m excited to partner with somebody as accomplished and respected as Peter Rivera, who we will work alongside in building the UFC in Puerto Rico.
“It is an honor to be chosen by the UFC to represent them in Puerto Rico, as it is the fastest growing sports company in the world,” Rivera added. “Puerto Rico has been distinguished by its love of combat sports. With the Pettis brothers, Dennis Bermudez and other Puerto Rican fighters rising in the sport, we expect an unprecedented explosion of UFC fans throughout Puerto Rico.”
MMA CROSSFIRE’S TAKE:
Canadian MMA Crossfire readers can appreciate the excitement Puerto Rican fans may be experiencing with the announcement. After years of indifference, a rejuvenated campaign by the combat sports community and the UFC produced a thriving UFC landscape in the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Other cities like Calgary, Winnipeg, and Halifax are now being developed.
Patience will be required. Puerto Rico has a population of about 3.7 million, about 60% of the density of the Greater Toronto Area, and is dwarfed by the estimated 35 million population of Canada.
But now that boots are on the ground, the more laborious tasks of planning and building the infrastructure can begin.
Officially, the UFC broke new ground in the countries of Singapore and Turkey so far in 2014.
As White likes to quip, let’s see what happens in Puerto Rico.