What’s next for UFC in Asia?

LI JINGLIANG UFC SHANGHAI

Last weekend the UFC wrapped up one of its most attended events in Asia when it descended on Shanghai for UFC Fight Night 122.

A total of 15,128 attended the event at the Mercedes-Benz arena, a number which UFC vice president of Asia Pacific Kevin Chang said was a record for the region.

“This is a milestone for our company,” he said in the post-fight press conference.

“I think selling out Mercedes-Benz arena just really indicates how far we’ve come in a short time.”

Not surprising was the support for the eight Chinese fighters on the card, many of them competing for the first time under the UFC banner.

Performance of the Night bonus winners included welterweight Li Jingliang (14-4), who thrilled fans with a first round stoppage of Zak Ottow. Promotional newcomer Song Yadong (10-3), a late replacement on the card also received a bonus for his amazing performance against Bharat Kandare.

“They really brought their best level, and I think it shows where the level of talent has come in China in, again, the last couple of years.”

So what’s next for the Las Vegas promotion which in 2016 has returned to Singapore and back to the Saitama Arena in Tokyo.

Chang says as yet, there are no plans in place, but expansion into Southeast Asia – given the fact that AirAsia is now a major partner – seems likely.

“There are so many places to go. At the end of the day, we haven’t made any decisions yet. But it’s definitely on our radar.”

“We’re going back to the drawing table probably on Monday to kind of take look at what our plans are for 2018.”

With MMA events taking place weekly in China, Malaysia, Japan and Thailand, UFC will be looking to make its mark on the Asia MMA circuit in a big way.