Outreach to the Hispanic market.
Source: Inside MMA
Much was made on blogs and fight fan forums about the marketing of UFC 121 and Cain Velasquez to the Mexican audience. The UFC billed him as the first potential Mexican heavyweight to win a major championship in combat sports. Velasquez, born in Salinas, Calif., considers himself American but he also grew up paying respects to his Mexican heritage.
The push by UFC appears to have been a huge success, as the nearly 15,000 people inside the Honda Center, many waving Mexican-flag colored garb, were clearly behind Velasquez.
"I think Cain winning the title and holding the title is a big deal for the Latino market," UFC president Dana White said. "Mexico dominated the lighter weight categories in boxing and I think they will in mixed martial arts eventually, too."
The difference between Velasquez and other Hispanic fighters, especially those native to Mexico: wrestling. There will need to be a steep learning curve for many young Hispanic fighters making their way into MMA, unless they're exposed to wrestling at an early age. For now, Velasquez would seem to be the exception. But with a fighter like him to look up to, let there be no doubt that a young crop are already mapping out their careers to the top.
"I feel great being the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the UFC," Velasquez said. "I'm going to keep representing. This belt I dedicate to the Mexican people in the United States and Mexico."
The UFC has attempted to make inroads into Mexico for at least half a decade. Velasquez could be the key to getting that done.