UFC Announces Multi-Year Event Deals With Venues In Macao, Singapore
The UFC announced on Thursday it has signed a multi-year deal with venues in Macao and Singapore to stage mixed martial arts events in the region starting next year, according to Peter Rutherford of REUTERS. The UFC said that it would "hold events at The Venetian resort hotel in Macau and Singapore's Marina Bay Sands" starting in '14, and produce a Chinese version of its reality show The Ultimate Fighter. UFC Asia CEO Mark Fischer said, "We'll be bringing at least one live fight event to the Singapore Marina Bay Sands, with the first one coming early first quarter next year. We'll have well-known fighters on the main card but we want to fill the card with more Asian fighters. We really want to build a base and ... create more relevance with local audiences." Fischer said The Ultimate Fighter reality show "could be key in cracking the Chinese market." Fischer: "We are still at the investment stage but we do see tremendous long-term potential here. TUF China is a watershed, we believe it's going to do more for growing the brand and the sport of MMA among the Greater China audience than any other program to date." The show features up-and-coming mixed martial artists living and training together, and "competing with each other for a UFC contract." The U.S. version "catapulted the UFC, and the sport, into the mainstream" in '05. Fischer said, "It's definitely a series targeted at a Chinese audience." As to when the UFC would hold events on the Chinese mainland, Fischer said it "first had to reach a critical mass." Fischer: "It's a question of strategy and how aggressive we want to get. We've had a very deliberate and patient strategy to date, and TUF is a very big step in the middle of that strategy" (REUTERS, 7/11).