Zuffa is contiuing their global expansion by opening an office in China. They have hired a lead man for the project in former NBA Asia executive Mark Fischer. The UFC hopes to expand into the region. They will hope for strong television deals, new talent, and eventually a live show.
I believe one way the UFC expansion into Asia will impact things is in terms of their roster. However, historically the UFC has struggled to land top Asian talent. Furthermore, many of the guys they have landed have not been very successful.
Curiously, Zuffa only has 8 Asian fighters unde contract (Takanori Gomi, Dong Hyun Kim, Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Dongi Yang, Chan Sung Jung, Zhang Tie Quan and Takeya Mizugaki). I have to believe that expansion will be difficult without more native stars. NBA Asia was successful in large part due to the success and marketing of NBA player Yao Ming. UFC in England has been successful in large part to the success of Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy.
The problem is that many of the Japanese fighters are content fighting in DREAM, Sengoku, Shooto, and Deep promotions. The impact of UFC’s expansion into Asia may be that more Asian fighters will want to fight in the world’s premiere organization. Since the collapse of PRIDE Asian MMA has struggled. DREAM and Sengoku are struggling financially. The parent company of DREAM, FEG may be on its last leg. Ratings are way down. Japan has not been known for being great at developing stars. Also, Japanese MMA has a reputation of being somewhat crooked. MMA in Asia needs a revival.
I believe we may see several stars head to UFC or WEC once events start airing on TV in China, India and Japan.
Meanwhile, Checkout MMA Planet’s Top Asian MMA Prospects
While we may see the impact directly in the UFC roster do not be fooled the impact will be in revenue. The UFC will literally be available in billions of homes as they make their way through Asia. Watch for serious pushes in China, India, the Philippines, Taiwan and even Japan.