Ultimate fighting comes to Macau
Macau will stage the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for only its second time in Asia in November, as organisers seek to gain a foothold in China.
Having successfully hosted a sold-out event in Tokyo in February, the UFC is confident the 15,000-seat CotaiArena at the Venetian will be full on November 10.
The fight night will be broadcast by Fuel TV in the United States, and by UFC television partners around Asia and globally.
The UFC is the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation and is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, based in Las Vegas. UFC beams to more than 130 countries on a seven-year multi-media TV deal with Fox that will net it around US$100 million in rights annually.
'This event is a major step in the development of the UFC brand in this region of the world, and China in particular,' said Mark Fischer, UFC managing director for Asia, who was speaking from Las Vegas.
'We are delighted to finally bring a live event in prime time to the millions of fans in this area, and especially to those lucky enough to come and experience all the excitement of the UFC.'
Fischer said Macau was ideal to stage their event as it would attract influential people from the mainland and its success could pave the way for Hong Kong to stage the event, although he warned there were major hurdles.
'One of the biggest hurdles to staging the event in Hong Kong is that there isn't a world-class indoor arena that has very high production values. We feel this is significant. We need to look at a modern indoor arena [in the city] that can hold at least 10,000 spectators. It's too difficult to book the Hong Kong Coliseum because of its limited availability. There's no venue similar to the CotaiArena that is available,' he said.
'We would love to stage a UFC event in Hong Kong. We expect many fight fans from Hong Kong will come to the Macau event.
'Hong Kong could still get in on the act by hosting several lead-up events to the Macau extravaganza such as the official weigh-in and clinics in Hong Kong.'
The fight card for Macau will be finalised next month.
'Fighters can command as much as US$200,000 a night, including bonuses and fight fees,' said Fischer. 'The UFC has about 300 fighters under contract. Some of the best fighters can earn as much as US$1 million a fight. The Macau event probably won't include a championship fight but the contenders will still be top-notch fighters.'
UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta was excited the event was coming to Macau. 'This is just the first of many world-class fights we plan to hold over the coming years in China, one of the birthplaces of martial arts,' he said. 'Macau is an ideal place to start this journey.'
The UFC's reach in China is more than 450 million TV viewers via a dozen provincial broadcasters, and more than 500 million viewers through the nation's leading internet portals.
UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan leads a growing group of professional MMA fighters on the mainland, several of whom are candidates to make their UFC debut in Macau.