The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the mixed martial arts promoter, opened a 93,000-square-foot “Performance Institute” for Asian athletes in Jing’An, Shanghai on Thursday.
Three times the size of a similar facility for US-based athletes in Las Vegas, the Shanghai institute will serve as a hub for fighters from mainland China and the Asia-Pacific region to train and develop. The opening coincided with the launch of UFC’s inaugural Academy Combine, where 50 athletes competed at the Shanghai facility to win a scholarship to UFC Academy, an MMA talent development programme created and managed by the UFC Performance Institute.
“The UFC Academy Combine has been developed to support the assessment of MMA talent using a series of skill-based evaluations, profiling exams, and physical performance tests,” said Dr. Duncan French, UFC vice president of performance at the UFC Performance Institute. “The first iteration of the UFC Academy Combine will be structured so we can conduct it ‘in-house’ at one of our facilities. The larger vision is to then develop a ‘field-based’ version of the combine, which can be implemented anywhere around the world and generate scores for comparison between MMA fighters from different countries.”
UFC President Dana White said the facility, which the South China Morning Post reported is rumoured to have cost around $13m, could help develop a Chinese UFC champion. White said: “As a promoter that is one of the things you dream about, and this is the place that can make a difference. If someone becomes a champion the entire group of people will follow.
“We’re waiting for that from this country and I don’t think anyone here can wrap their heads around how big that would be.”
UFC opened the first UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas in 2017, as the world’s first mixed martial arts multi-disciplinary research, innovation, and training centre. To date, more than 400 athletes from UFC’s roster have used the facility. In addition, several dozen NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and Olympic sports athletes have visited the facility for support during their off-season training.