The UFC is returning to Singapore.
As officials have announced, the UFC is returning to Singapore on June 17. This will mark the promotion’s first event in Asia in 2017.
No bouts have been announced just yet, but it will be a ‘Fight Night’ card, instead of a pay-per-view. More details on the broadcast and the line up are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.
“We’re definitely bringing an exciting fight card to Singapore,” UFC Senior Vice President of International Business, Joe Carr said during the press conference. “This is a very meaningful step not only for Singapore, but for our business in Asia and the region.”
“Singapore is the home of our Asia headquarters and as such has always been a key market in our strategy to grow the UFC brand and the sport of MMA in the ASEAN region.”
The UFC first hosted an event in the country back in 2014, and it featured names such as Tarec Saffiedine, Hyun Gyu Lim, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Max Holloway among others.
This earlier Singapore event was held at the Marina Bay Sands, which stemmed from their partnership with the Sands group — one that also helped host the 3 UFC shows at the Venetian in Macau. On this second time around, the promotion will be going to a much bigger venue, in the Singapoor Indoor Stadium.
Also noted on the press conference was the UFC’s plans to host 3 events in Asia in 2017.
After UFC: Manila was cancelled, the organization wasn’t able to have an event in Asia for the entire 2016. There’s still no word on a return date to the Philippines, and Carr admitted to being “a little inconsistent” in the region after the recent challenges they faced. He also mentioned past “venue issues” in South Korea, but states that they plan to have an event in Seoul early 2018.
After the was UFC sold for $4 billion, there have been moves seen as massive cost-cutting measures. According to the official, instead of people’s worries, this deal is actually a bigger positive for the region with WME-IMG’s strong ties and connections in Asia.
“There was talk in the media about UFC scaling back internationally, but it’s the complete opposite,” Carr said. “We have a lot more firepower and capacity to take it to the next level.”
With goals of successfully breaking into Mainland China and the other regions, Carr also noted that they’re working hard for the “last piece of the puzzle” — a fighter that eventually becomes the first UFC champion from Asia. On that front, he says the company is close to picking up a huge Chinese star that is UFC-ready, and should be finalized in the coming days.
“We’re on the verge of signing a premier Chinese fighter,” he said. “The fighter that we are going to sign will be able to step in and fight right away. He’s that good.”
Apart from a myriad of Asian stars, the UFC currently has Li Jingliang, who is coming off 2 knockout wins, as the best Chinese fighter on their roster.
As for big stars who are high level and UFC-ready, there aren’t many in the region. Two of the most popular and experienced guys have already been in the UFC and are currently tearing up the Chinese MMA scene in Zhang Lipeng (TUF: China Winner who was cut) and Wang Sai (TUF: China finalist, left UFC off a win).
It’s unclear if they fit his description — or are even contractually free to sign with the UFC — but there are other popular and UFC-ready fighters such as Sanda Champ Wang Guan, fellow former RUFF champ Meixuan Zhang, or even female strawweight Weili Zhang to name a few.