By Andrew Starke

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) may have broken several crowd records at Acer Arena as it passed through Sydney but publicans have also reported strong interest from patrons.

As well as being the fastest-selling event at Acer Arena and the biggest UFC crowd outside of North America, the Penn versus Fitch bout proved very popular in pubs and clubs around Australia.

The rise in popularity of the sport can be measured by the number of licensed venues that show UFC, with Fox Sports figures indicating a 104 percent increase since January 2010.

Feedback from venues has been enthusiastic with many venues packed with fans cheering on local UFC fighters such as George Sotiropoulos, Kyle Noke and James Te Huna.

Venues reported bar and food trade well above an average Sunday with many people coming in from 12pm to enjoy lunch before the main event start time of 2 pm.

English middleweight Michael Bisping (right) stopped Jorge Rivera early in the second round of the co-main event with a brutal flurry of punches.

“UFC has seen a tremendous growth in commercial purchases in bars, pubs and clubs in Australia,” said UFC’s managing director of international development Marshall Zelaznik.

“Venue managers are seeing the positive impact it has on their Sunday trade and are booking UFC events for the rest of the year.”

The Delany Hotel in Newcastle is one establishment that has enjoyed success hosting UFC events.

“We have over 300 people for each UFC event. People travel from all over the region to come and watch UFC at the Delany,” said Delany Hotel venue manager Anthony Hird.

“It is by far our most successful Sunday trading day with groups of guys and girls coming in for lunch and drinks. Everyone has a great time without any trouble.”

The rise in popularity of UFC is likely to gain momentum with a new UFC magazine set to launch in Australia and rumours of a local version of the reality TV series, The Ultimate Fighter.

UFC Pay- per-view events are shown on Main Event and are available to licensed venues through Fox Sports Venues and Austar. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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