Photo via Anton Tabuena
2012 marked the UFC's first ventures into the Asian market. First at UFC 144 they hit Japan and on Saturday they went into China with UFC Macao. Shortly after the China event, the UFC made official plans to return to Japan and a new market.
The UFC's debut event in China is only a day behind us now. But the premier promotion in MMA hasn't hesitated for a second in working their international expansion. Shortly after Cung Le laid out former Middleweight champ Rich Franklin, the Managing Director of UFC Asia, Mark Fischer announced the company's next venture into the Asian market (via MMA Fighting)
On March 3, the UFC will make their second appearance at Saitama Super Arena. They first entered the former home of PrideFC in February 2012 with UFC 144. In the main event, Ben Henderson was able to take the Lightweight belt from the rematch king Frankie Edgar. The event coming up in March will mirror 144 with a Sunday morning local start time to coincide with standard North American broadcast times.
In addition to the announcement regarding the return to Japan, Fischer also indicated the UFC's desire to enter Indonesia. No details are yet available, but they have partnered with MNC Media. MMA Fighting breaks gives an quick rundown of the situation:
With the desire to go to the country, the UFC has partnered up with MNC Media, a large media conglomerate with holdings including broadcasting and print media, telecommunications, online retail and more. It's the largest such network in Indonesia and has 40% of the share of the market.
The country hasn't had much MMA in the the past 7 years, but this year Asian promotion ONE FC has hosted an event at the nation's capital in Jakarta last February.
This, along with other recent news, promises a big 2013 for the UFC. Thursday night it was revealed that the end of Strikeforce is near, and it's expected that much of their top talent will come to the UFC. The second season of TUF: Brazil was also recently announced and the first venture into the Australian market with TUF: Smashes is already underway. Coming off a frustrating 2012, the UFC will need some of these positive aspirations to pay off.