China on the UFC schedule in 2012
March 30, 2012
The UFC opened offices in Asia in August 2010 and the UFC would like to make inroads into China. It had placed hopes with UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan in hoping that his success would equate to a following in China. Despite Zhang’s defeats in the Octagon he has picked up many fans of the sport. The support for Zhang can be exemplified by the fact that he picked up 100,000 followers to his Weibo (equivalent to Twitter) account after his UFC debut in Australia in 2011. The UFC hopes that there would be a sufficient level of MMA fighters from the country that it could feature on a card in China. The company sees that a market will develop faster if there is local talent to display. It used this strategy in 2002 with the UFC’s first trip to the United Kingdom.
The expansion of the product into Asia is a logical move despite hurdles it must overcome. Lorenzo Fertitta noted two reasons expansion makes sense.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
“We’ve talked a lot about our international expansion and China is one of the focal points for the company,” Fertitta said. “We know it’s going to be a long-term play there. It’s got a tremendous amount of potential, primarily for two reasons. One, obviously, is because of the size of the market. It’s a huge market. And two, there is a long-standing martial arts background that the country has from a cultural standpoint.
The Asian market especially China is fertile ground for the UFC due to the amount of people that are in the country. The NBA recognized this and capitalized on it with Yao Ming and is getting a second run at the market with Taiwanese American Jeremy Lin’s popularity. The UFC hired former NBA exec Marc Fischer to run its Asian operations.
MMA Payout has written about the challenges in China from both the short term and long term perspective. Although the articles are from late 2010, we can see that it has executed much of what we’ve written about. Its worth a reread.