Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
After a long absence from the Asian market, UFC officials are looking to make Asia even more valuable than the North American market within the next five-to-ten years.
In the Zuffa era the UFC had previously never held a card in Asia until this year's UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan. They'll supposedly be back in Japan next March and will be in Macau, China this November with Rich Franklin in the main event. The sudden interest in the Asian market appears to be serious, and are looking to become a dominant force in the region for years to come. TODAYonline, a newspaper based out of Singapore, talked to Mark Fischer about their upcoming plans.
But UFC are unfazed. The US$3 billion American property plans to stay and win over Asia this time.
Mark Fischer, Asia Managing Director of UFC owners Zuffa Sports, told TODAY that the region will be worth more than their North American markets within the next five to 10 years. To become the dominant force, they aim to stage at least 10 events annually in this part of the world within three years.
This may seem like a direct shot at One FC as "being in the way" of their planned takeover of the Asia, but according to Fischer, that's not the case.
For the time being, Fischer said One FC are complementary and not a threat to UFC's plans.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Sports Conference yesterday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront, he said: "One FC have been very good on building the sport, but are focused on mainly developing Asian fighters, which Asia needs right now. They have also said many of their fighters are not yet ready to compete in UFC, so we occupy that premium role, the best of the best, and are the global leader."
The UFC's international expansion is at an all-time high. All of the Brazilian shows have been a local success, Australia has arguably the best crowd for UFC shows, and further editions of TUF are planned for India and South Korea. What strikes me is the number of events the UFC wants to do in 2013 just in Asia. This could either mean that despite a preponderance of injuries and allegations of watered-down cards, they will do even more shows from the 32 (well ... 31 that weren't cancelled) for 2012, or they will go away from US-based cards and Europe for Canada, Brazil, Asia, etc.
We can only wait and see.