UFC Looks To Expand In Asia With First Event In China In "Long-Term Play"
UFC on Nov. 10 will hold its first card in China with UFC on Fuel 6, and the event "won't say much about what will occur in three, five or 10 years,” as UFC's interest in China and the entire Asian market “is a long-term play,” according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. Moments after the conclusion of the Nov. 10 event, "analysis of what it all means will commence.” The “size of the crowd, its understanding of mixed martial arts, the media's interest and all the various possibilities will be intensely dissected” shortly after the Rich Franklin-Cung Le main event ends. But the “success, or the lack thereof, of that specific card will mean nothing when viewed against the long-term picture.” Despite the growth of the sport, it is “going to take years to cultivate the market.” Brazil is “without question” now the UFC's “most fervent market.” TV ratings are “astronomical, and even fighters who are largely unknown in the American market are stars in Brazil.” However, Brazil is “hardly an overnight success story.” Iole: “Expect a similar slow buildup in China. While China has a rich history with the traditional martial arts, it only recently has begun to look at mixed martial arts.” UFC Asia Managing Dir Mark Fischer said, "The rise is happening; it's just not taking off like a rocket ship just yet." Iole noted UFC has “pushed a strong marketing effort in the country, to a point where Fischer feels the UFC is more advanced at a similar stage than the NBA was when it first made its push into China.” Fischer is the former NBA Asia Senior VP & Managing Dir and “began culling the Chinese mainland in 1998.” Fischer: "We're moving on a bit of a faster path. In this age of media now, with the Internet and so forth, we have more avenues than when the NBA was at this stage” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/26).