Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

Ready to rumble: UFC announces Asia return with October fight night planned in Manila

Good news for the mixed martial arts masses across Asia with the announcement that the sport will return to the region later in the year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:40pm

There was good news for the mixed martial arts masses across Asia on Thursday with the announcement that the sport will return to the region later in the year.

UFC Fight Night Manila will be staged at the Philippine capital’s SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, October 15, as the UFC attempts to spread its influence across Asia following its successful debut in Manila last May, a night headlined by Frankie Edgar’s punishing win over Urijah Faber in a featherweight bout.

“Manila is a fighting city and we hope to put on another unforgettable show that will capture the hearts of Filipino sports fans throughout the country,” executive vice-president and general manager of UFC Asia Kenneth Berger said in statement.

Tickets will go on sale in August and the line-up is still to be finalised.

The news was welcomed by Alberto Mina, the only Hong Kong fighter on the UFC’s books, even though the perfect scenario obviously would be to have an event here in his home town, given the UFC has so far hosted sold-out events in the likes of Macau, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo, as well as Manila.

“That would be perfect but no matter where they decide to stage the fights we’ve been trying to build the sport here over the past few years and it’s important to showcase what the UFC has to offer for Asian fans so they can get up close and enjoy the whole experience,” said the Brazilian-born 34-year-old.

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“The Asian-based fighters know we have a role in helping to spread the message, as well as to get the younger generation training and enjoying the benefits you get from sport that way. So it’s great news that the UFC is coming back to Asia.”

Mina (12-0-0) is currently training at the Kings MMA gym in Los Angeles in the lead-up to his Las Vegas debut as part of UFC Fight Nite 90 on July 7, where he will take on the veteran welterweight Mike Pyle (27-11-1). Mina might not on the Manila card – as yet – but he remains hopeful.

“I’m focused on winning this next fight,” he said. “That would take me to 3-0 in the UFC and get me more attention. If the call came I’d love it.”

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Rumours about the UFC’s plans for expansion in Asia have been swirling around the sport this past week, with reports from the United States claiming more than US$4 billion had been offered to the organisation from a collective that may (or may not) include China’s Dalian Wanda Group and Tencent Holdings to handle things in the region, alongside WME-IMG and The Kraft Group for North America.

None of those organisations have responded to requests for comment but UFC president Dana White used a broadcast of UFC Unfiltered to pour ice on the matter.

“It’s just crazy, but it’s the world that we live in today,” he said. “With absolutely no proof or evidence whatsoever, people can just say whatever they want. It’s f***ing nuts.”