By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier 

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is beginning to rival football codes as the most important sport for some Australian pubs, according to live sports experts.

Game On Live Sports (GOLS), which provides venues across the country with live sports schedule management and marketing, says that while spending by footy fans is clearly benefiting the on-premise, UFC is also "a boon for pubs".

GOLS search statistics (March 2012 – March 2013) show UFC attracts over 40 per cent more searches by patrons seeking to watch sport in pubs than its nearest rival, soccer, and 155 per cent more than AFL. 

UFC international says Australia is one of its core world markets, sitting just behind USA, Canada and Brazil, with the second-highest commercial pay-per-view take-up. 

"On-premise venues in Australia are incredibly important to the UFC," Tom Wright, UFC director of operations Australia, New Zealand and Canada told TheShout. 

"Being able to go to the pub and share the UFC experience with mates and other fans, is the next best thing to being at a live event." 

A spokesperson for Fox Sports echoed the comments, telling TheShout that publicans are raving about how well their Sunday trade is doing and the boost in revenue the UFC is bringing. 

"Fans are flocking to venues to bond with fellow fans and cheer on their favourite fighters.

"Managers have been very positive in their praise of the UFC, and particularly impressed by the knowledge and passion of the fans who come in early to watch the preliminary bouts that are shown 'Live' on 'Fuel TV'. 

"Venues are benefiting from patrons coming for the UFC then staying on for afternoon sport; it's a win-win for everyone."

GOLS founder Alex Antoniades said Australia's culture of hitting the local to watch sport is stronger than ever.

"GOLS had over 30,000 people looking to do exactly that in 2012, and not just locals, but international visitors as well," he said.

"It's a very exciting time for venues showing live sport and for punters looking for venues."

Fox reports that UFC 160 on May 26th is shaping up to be its biggest yet, with three Aussie-based fighters on the card: Mark Hunt, James Te Huna and Rob Whittaker.

The Shout Team

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

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