Mixed martial arts draws Vegas visitors


*logoLet’s get ready for an economic rumble! This tweak on the world-famous boxing adage could be the theme for the inaugural Fight Summit, a conference that will draw mixed martial arts athletes, trainers, managers and other industry professionals from around the world for three days of meetings at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino.

Station Casinos proprietors Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta run the most popular mixed martial arts league, Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, and it has become a $1 billion enterprise. Several of its pay-per-view telecasts tallied more than 500 million viewers worldwide. An April event in Abu Dhabi, the UFC’s first in the Middle East, drew more than 10,000 fans who packed the city’s hotels.

Mixed martial arts has become big business for Las Vegas. For six events from February 2008 to Jan. 31, 2009, the UFC generated $86.2 million in nongaming revenue, according to the Applied Analysis economics research firm. Those six events attracted 80,087 people, of which 56,435 came from outside of Las Vegas.

The study also noted UFC visitors spend more per visit than overall visitors to Las Vegas ($931 for UFC visitors compared with $556 overall), have higher per-person nongambling expenses ($1,528 compared with $869) and have greater annual household income (42% make more than $100,000 compared with 24% of overall visitors). And 84% of UFC visitors stayed in hotels during their Las Vegas stay, four percentage points higher than the average.

Summit manager Mike Hauben said Fight Summit emerged out of a need to have a true mixed martial arts industry trade show. “Sure, there were expos for fans, but I’ve attended many trade shows in other industries, and there just wasn’t an event where businesses in the MMA community could learn from each other, learn from icons in the industry, network and see where the business of the sport is headed,” he said.

Fight Summit attendees will be able to learn from such luminaries as Randy Couture, Ricardo Liborio from American Top Team, Mark DellaGrotte from Sityodtong and more. Professionals will teach also trainers how to coach and run their academies better.
Fight Summit will take place Dec. 7 through 9.


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