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UFC gets ex-NBA exec to lead Far East push

UFC has hired former NBA executive Mark Fischer to lead the efforts to expand its brand in the Far East.

Fischer worked 12 years for the NBA and was most recently senior vice president and managing director of NBA Asia, responsible for developing league businesses and operations in the Asia-Pacific region. He’s been a consultant since leaving the NBA in March 2009.

Fischer has lived in Asia for 20 years and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Before joining the NBA, he ran a Beijing advertising and marketing agency.

At UFC, Fischer will focus on expanding broadcast and digital media deals and developing relationships in a vast Asian market. The MMA group already has distribution deals for fights, highlights and episodes of the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

Online, MMA sites in China have exposed UFC to several hundred million users, according to Fischer.
UFC.cn, a Chinese-language site, is up and operating.

“We are just starting to scratch the surface here and have a good base to start with,” Fischer said.

 “In China, we did a trial deal on Inner Mongolia Television last year [reaching 80 million homes] that lasted four months and gave us good exposure.”

Down the line, UFC’s strategy in Asia includes signing native fighters and producing live events in venues such as the new Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, managed by AEG, and the Venetian-Macao Resort Hotel, confirmed UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta.

The sky’s the limit for solidifying UFC’s brand in Asia because the sport’s individual disciplines have been rooted in its culture for centuries, Fischer said.

“Mixed martial arts as a whole has caught fire over here for the past five or so years,” he said. “There are a number of smaller domestic organizations holding events. We need to spend a lot of time building awareness of UFC’s global leadership and its quality and class of fighters.”

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