MMA To Macau

Following the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s triumphant return to Japan two months ago, the Mixed Martial Arts event has targeted Macau and Singapore as its next Asian territories for conquest.

These two travel hubs are considered important test markets for UFC’s expansion plans, according to Reuters.
UFC’s managing director in Asia, Mark Fisher, said his company is involved in “pretty detailed discussions about Macau,” but that they are not at a point where he can make a formal announcement.

“It’s exciting for us because it’s right on China’s doorstep,” he said. “And that’s the market we want to grow and build long-term.” Macau is the region’s prime gaming destination, bringing in $33.5 billion in gambling revenues last year.

However, UFC has also sent a fact-finding group to Singapore to figure out its viability as another market. The main issue when deciding whether to stage an event is taking into consideration the diversity throughout Asia.

UFC returned to Asia for the first time in 12 years last February with a sold-out event in Japan, which not only already has the audience but also the venues.

Finding those kinds of resources elsewhere in Asia is the main problem.

“We can’t go somewhere without a big enough, or modern enough venue,” Fisher said. In addition to a proper fan base, the new markets will need to generate broadcast partners and sponsors.

Though Macau and Singapore are “relatively small markets,” a lot of wealthy people pass through and leave their money behind.

Following Macau and Singapore, UFC will target South Korea and the Philippines. The obstacle in Korea is venues – most are too old. The Philippines may be more promising because, according to Fisher, “it’s a great market with a strong fight culture, excellent broadcast coverage, and a very passionate fan base.”

That’s especially important for MMA, which is mostly seen as an American phenomenon. Explaining the concept of MMA to Asians, which has its own complement of martial arts, will be half the battle.

In other MMA news, ONE Fighting Championship announced that the ONE Asia Summit will take place in Singapore June 1-3 at the Marina Bay Sands Casino and Resort in Singapore.

The summit will feature presentations by industry leaders, TV broadcasters, international sponsors, leading gym owners, MMA “media influencers” and MMA stars.