The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced yesterday it has signed a multi-year deal with venues in Macau and Singapore to stage mixed martial arts events in the region starting from next year.
The UFC said it would hold events at The Venetian in Macau and Singapore's Marina Bay Sands from 2014, and produce a Chinese version of its reality show The Ultimate Fighter.
The organisation made its first foray into China last year in Macau and Mark Fischer, the UFC's Asia chief, said its success had been a springboard to their latest expansion plans.
"The event in Macau was a tremendous success and I think it was an eye-opener for both the fans and the UFC," Fischer said. "We'll be bringing at least one live fight event to the Singapore Marina Bay Sands, with the first one coming early first quarter next year. We'll have well-known fighters on the main card but we want to fill the card with more Asian fighters. We really want to build a base and ... create more relevance with local audiences."
Fischer, who was one of the driving forces behind the National Basketball Association's growth in China, said The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show could be key in cracking the Chinese market.
"We are still at the investment stage but we do see tremendous long-term potential here. TUF China is a watershed, we believe it's going to do more for growing the brand and the sport of MMA among the greater China audience than any other programme to date.
"In terms of making money, I'm sure Asia is going to be very fruitful but right now we still consider it a building phase, but this is a huge step in that build."