During the last two decades, China has imposed rules where government approval is required for all private entities that wish to host sporting events in the country. It's a state-dominated industry, and that process includes mandatory fees for sports 'watchdogs' which they base on the company's 'importance' and 'ability to attract advertisers'.
This has hindered some private investors and foreign organizations from breaking into the market in the past, but China has been changing their tune and are now looking to shake things up.
During the State Council's executive meeting held earlier this month, they have made a decision to open up the multimillion-dollar market for commercial sporting events and thus removing the need for such approvals. The discussion also included a call to change broadcasting policies, which will move from having State-run networks dominating the market, to having more sports events available to more media companies.
According to the statements released, they plan to attract more private investors and now expect to "unburden enterprises to the utmost and give vitality to all kinds of sporting resources".
Now, what does this mean for Mixed Martial Arts? As said above, fees vary for every company, and while MMA promotions such as RUFF have paid these dues to secure the government 'support' in the past, this policy has shunned other organizations that were also looking to set up shop in the country in the past few years.
As for the UFC, It's no secret that they have been wanting to break into the market for quite some time now. They've hosted three shows in Macau to date, along with creating the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: China, but the world's largest MMA promotion has yet to actually put on an event in the Mainland.
We have yet to see the effects of this new announcement, and these 'watchdogs' are likely to try and oppose this change with their bank accounts expected to take a huge hit with the removal of such fees. With the central government making a serious push though, things are likely to move forward. And by eliminating these fees -- which could cost well over a million dollars annually even to smaller companies -- it would remove one of the major roadblocks to the UFC's expansion plans in the region.
In a market still relatively new to Mixed Martial Arts, there will naturally still be other hurdles to overcome before they can properly commercialize an event the way they want to, but this change would lessen the politics involved and would definitely be a huge step forward as they continue looking to break into the highly-coveted market.
Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena