The mixed martial arts (MMA) series in February returned to the continent for the first time in 12 years when it staged a sold-out event in Japan. The country is regarded as Asia’s hub for MMA but Mark Fischer, the UFC’s managing director in Asia, said the Championship is focused on forging a path into China and Southeast Asia. “We’re in pretty detailed discussions about Macau for this year, though we’re not at a point where we can make a formal announcement,” Fischer told Reuters. “It’s very exciting for us because it’s right on China’s doorstep and that’s a market we want to grow and build long term.”
Macau is a special administrative region of China and the casino industry is a major player for its economy, with revenues reaching US$33.5 billion last year. Fischer added Singapore is also an important market for the UFC. “We’re here in Singapore on a fact-finding mission to see the plausibility of making something happen here next year,” he said.
Fischer stated the UFC will eventually stage events in major Asian markets such as the Philippines and South Korea, but said the choice of venue is a crucial part behind staging a UFC show. “Venues are important, we can’t go somewhere without a big enough, or modern enough, venue,” he said. “Secondly, we have to look at the current commercial conditions. Is the fan base and economic base big enough to sell enough tickets at a good rate, and generate the broadcast and sponsorship partnerships to make it worthwhile today? And the third factor is the future business potential of that market. If the market is not big enough today will it be tomorrow if we use an event to seed the market?”
Fischer added: “Places like Singapore and Macau are unique because they’re destinations, they’re hubs and people come from all over Asia. They’re relatively small markets, but wealthy and a lot of influential people come to these hubs, and we hope they would go back to bigger markets and spread the word about the UFC.”