The UFC has expressed its intention to bring live shows all around the world. UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said, “We are going everywhere.” It looks like he meant it. The UFC will host a live show on November 10, in Macau, China. The UFC has been very intentional about expanding into the Asian market. They have opened an office in Beijing and hired former NBA Asian director Mark Fischer as their director of Asian operations. They held a show in Japan in February and now will have their second Asian even in 2012.
It is expected that the UFC would also pick up some Chinese talent for the event. Sean Shelby has recently been to China to scout talent and left without signing anyone. The word on the street in that Chinese fighters are a step behind others in all around skill set. However, there are a few fighters who are making waves in Asian promotions such as RUFF and Legend FC. Currently, the UFC only has one Chinese fighter on their roseter and that is Tiequan Zhang. I would certainly expect the roster to gain a few more Chinese or Asian fighters for this card. It is not uncommong for the UFC to sign 4 or 5 local fighters when they expand into a new market like they did for the Sweden shown.
1. Tuerxun Jumabieke – 12-0 – 135 lbs – He would be the leading candidate to be signed by the UFC. I think he will be in the UFC one day and what better time to sign him than the show in Japan. The one question is that some have assumed that he signed to an exclusive deal with RUFF that he may not be let out of. Anyone with a 12-0 record gets some notice. Jumabieke is only 26 years old so he has time to grow as a fighter too. This would seem to be just the type of guy the UFC would want to lead the China expansion.
2. Guan Wang – 9-0 – 145 lbs – He may be the Chinese fighter with the most upside. He too may be locked into RUFF, but I would bet that if UFC wants a few Chinese fighters on the Macau card, Wang is on their radar. At only 26 years old, Wang is a guy to watch.
3. Jadamba Narantungalag – 8-2- 155 lbs – Techinically, Jadamba is not Chinese, he is Mongolian. However, he would be a logical choice for this card as well. The same problem exists for him. He signed a multiple fight contract with Legend FC. Also, Jadamba is 36 years old. He is the highest ranked fighter the UFC could add specifically for this card, but he is certainly not a prospect.
4. Jingliang Li – 7-2 – 170 lbs – The China Top Team product is still a solis prospect and would have to be at least on the UFC radar. He is coming off of a win and at 24 years old has some upside.
5. Eddie Ng – 5-1 – 155 lbs – “The Magician” probably isn’t UFC bound any time soon. He is locked into a OneFC contract, but he would be a great add to the UFC in general and the Macau card if the UFC could sign him away from OneFC.
6. Zilong Zhao – 7-2 – 205 lbs – Zhao is listed on Sherdog as a light heavyweight, but he probably would need to compete at middleweight to have any chance. The problem with Zhao is that he has not fought anywhere near decent competition. The advantage he has is he is heavier and it is rare to see Chinese fighters in the heavier weight classes.
7. Zhuo Yang – 6-0 – 145 lbs – Yang is a guy who has some buzz behind him. If I am not mistaken his record is actually better than the recorded 1-0 from Sherdog’d fightfinder. He would be a logical addition, but he may have to wait until UFC’s second trip to China whenever that may be.
8. Xian Ji – 9-1 – 135 lbs. – He may be one of the sleeper picks. He has legit skills and has comepted with some of China’s better competition. Ji is coming off of an impressive win over Jack Gooderham which could give him some momentum.
9. Honggang Yao – 7-3-135 lbs – He lost a split decision to Jumabieke, but rebounded with a nice win. He probably isn’t the first choice, but he may get a shot by default.
8-0 welterweight Hailin Ao would probably top the list, but he has not fought since November of 2009 and I am not sure what his fighting status is right now. Also, 5-0 middleweight, Li Gao Bao would be on the list, but he hasn’t fought since 2009.
Other Possible Asian Targets:
Fransino Tirta (14-0, Indonesia), Mark Striegel (10-0, Philippines), Myung Ho Bae (13-5, Korea), Doo Ho Choi (8-1, Korea), Kyoji Horiguchi (7-1, Japan), Takasuke Kume (13-1, Japan), Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (11-2, Japan), Justin Cruz (18-4, Philippines)