Media: UFC to launch network of MMA-style fitness clubs in Russia

TASS, 18.04.2019

Amid interest in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) bouts involving such famed fighters as Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, the organization plans to set up its own network of fitness clubs -UFC Gym - with a zone for practicing mixed martial arts, Kommersant writes. The Russian Fitness Group company, the owner of the World Class network, obtained exclusive rights for the brand, a source familiar with the deal told the paper. A representative of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which owns 22.5% in the Russian Fitness Group and is participating in the development of UFC Russia, confirmed the report. Director General of World Class fitness clubs network (part of the Russian Fitness Group) Nikolai Pryanishnikov noted that the deal has been signed for 10 years and can be extended for the same period.

In the coming decade, some 5.5 bln rubles ($86 mln) may be invested in developing UFC Gym. The Russian Fitness Group plans to build a total of 55 UFC Gym clubs in Russia. UFC Gym, is a subsidiary of UFC, an international organizer of mixed martial arts bouts. These fitness clubs have an octagon for fights in the UFC format, equipment for weightlifting exercises, cardio training and boxing.

According to Pryanishnikov, the first UFC Gym club is due to be opened in Moscow in 2019 in a Signature format. There has been a growing interest in mixed martial arts clubs, a representative of the Territory of Fitness company told the paper. This sport is popular among clients aged between 20 and 35. Soon, a tournament in Moscow will be held under the UFC brand, which is expected to attract more clients, he noted.

UFC’s activity now is aimed at winning the Russian market, namely by holding the first tournament in Moscow, active promotion, organizing various sports events under the UFC brand, a representative of the Territory of Fitness company Marina Sigai told RBC. The market is expected to grow in the coming years, and this will be encouraged by a Russian government program, which envisages developing sports in Russia and involving more than half of the public in regular exercises.

In 2018, the volume of fitness market grew nearly 5% to 118.9 bln rubles ($1.6 bln), while this year it is expected to rise 6%, an RBC analysis showed. Nearly half of this figure accounted for Moscow and the Moscow Region, 12% for St. Petersburg and 21% in other major Russian cities.