UFC to stage fight in Singapore in June
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) yesterday announced it will host its first event here in three years, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 17.
No names have been revealed yet, although Joe Carr, UFC's senior vice-president, head of international and content, said there would be "top talent from this region... And some big international stars".
Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, Carr also said that the US-based mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation's growth in Asia in the last few years has been "a success", although he admitted that they could have done better in one aspect.
He said: "I admit that we have been a bit inconsistent in our event calendar (in the region)."
The world's biggest MMA promotion held its only event here in 2014 and cancelled its only event in Asia last year in Manila. However, this is set to change, after WME-IMG's acquisition of UFC last year.
Carr said: "It's going to be a major step for us in this market... This is really our kick-off for business in Asia in 2017."
IN FOR A TREAT
Singapore Tourism Board's director for sports Jean Ng said that MMA fans are in for a treat.
She said: "We are pleased that Singapore is hosting the UFC Fight Night.
"As the only UFC fight scheduled in South-east Asia this year, it will pique the interest of a growing MMA fan base in this region.
"It is also part of our efforts to burnish a calendar of events that will further enhance Singapore's appeal as an exciting sports and entertainment hub."
UFC is also planning to hold events in Japan and another unknown Asian city this year, as well as two events in Australia and New Zealand. It also plans to return to South Korea "early next year".
UFC's 2014 event at the Marina Bay Sands attracted a sell-out crowd of 5,216.
Since then, homegrown MMA promotion ONE Championship has gained a foothold in Singapore, staging two events here every year, and bringing events across Asia.
Yet, despite limited physical presence in this region, UFC said it has a million supporters here from a base of about 1.5 million MMA fans.
Carr said: "We are going to generate US$45 million (S$63.6m) in TV revenue alone in Asia Pacific in 2017 and that's how we measure ourselves, revenue, profitability and measured growth."
INVEST TO RAISE STANDARDS
He also said the MMA promotion aims to invest in properties such as UFC Gyms and grassroots programmes to raise the standard of fighters.
Former UFC women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate said: "The fighting landscape here has a lot of room to grow but the great thing is that there's a tremendous amount of interest here and interest usually garners talent. It just needs a bit of direction."