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Thursday, 01/02/2014, 04:44 pm

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UFC Plans Seven Events In 2014 For Asia


The UFC is continuing its march towards global domination.

On Saturday, UFC Fight Night 34 will emanate out of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. This will be the first stop on a 7-event trip through the continent of Asia, with all seven events falling inside the 2014 calendar year. An aggressive business model for sure, but if you ask UFC Asia’s Managing Director Mark Fischer, he would tell you that this is only the beginning.

We’ve got Saturday’s event in Singapore, and we’re looking at a couple of events this year in Macau,” Fischer told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie. “We’re looking, as well, at a new multi-year agreement to come to Japan at least once a year. We’re in discussions with partners in Seoul, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta. I don’t expect all of these to happen in 2014, but we’ll be coming to all of these places soon enough. Mainland China is also on the horizon.

We’re turning from sort of a one-off event to really a self-sustaining business model. We’re building up the team to make that happen.”

That team will also have a new headquarters to call home, as the UFC has moved its central headquarters from Beijing to Singapore, in order to facilitate their aggressive plans.

We see this as the beachhead for continued entry and exploration, if you will, of all of the Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and more,” Fischer said. “There are huge populations in these countries, and they all have deep martial arts roots and traditions. They’re all catching on to the move toward MMA.”

Like anything, it takes time,” Fischer said. “A long journey starts with a single step. But by having more fights in this region, we open up many more spots and convenient opportunities for fighters from Asia and create local relevance by having these fights in Asia.

I think educating and exposing people to the sport in the right way is the most important goal right now. It’s going to take time to develop, but it really is happening.”

Fischer believes that this Saturday will only be the beginning. And while there’s still lots of work to be done, he feels that the sky is the limit for the UFC’s success in the market.

It’s symbolic that this is the first event of the year for the UFC,” Fischer said. “It’s also the first event on the new UFC Fight Pass digital offering, and it’s the first one of, we think, many events in Asia. It’s not going to be a one-off. We’re going to have five, six, maybe even seven events in 2014, and we’re going to be doing at least that many in the years to come.

Our intent is to really build up the local relevance, to really educate the fans here and turn them from aware to interested and from interested to passionate, as we have elsewhere around the world. Once people have a chance to see this sport and all the excitement and drama behind it, not to mention the virtuous characteristics of the athletes, the sky is the limit.”

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