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China Daily Website

UFC starts to rumble in Macao

Updated: 2012-11-02 00:37
( China Daily)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship will debut at martial arts' birthplace in a bid to build a new market in the world's most populous country.

The most high-profile mixed martial arts competition in the world, the UFC will bring its first event to China on Nov 10, staging a fight between former UFC champion Rich Franklin and Vietnam-born American Cung Le at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Nov 10.

The governing body will use the card to explore the untapped market in China, where martial arts began.

"Our debut in Greater China is a huge milestone in UFC history and demonstrates the immense popularity and acceptance of the sport on a global stage," said Mark Fischer, UFC Asia managing director.

"This is certainly one of the single biggest sporting events to ever hit the Hong Kong and Macao area and the global attention this event will receive pays tribute to the birthplace of martial arts. We are honored to hold our first event in China at the world-class Cotai Arena in Macao."

"We are proud to bring UFC to Greater China for the very first time," said Edward Tracy, president and CEO of Sands China Ltd, the venue operator.

"Our Cotai Arena is the top venue of its kind in southern China and is the ideal place for UFC. We welcome the world's most elite athletes to Macao to demonstrate the ultimate in sportsmanship at the venue."

Le has become a superstar in Asia, especially in China, due to his mastery of Sanshou (wushu in Chinese) and his film career, which includes Hong Kong kung fu movies Bodyguards and Assassins and the yet-to-be-released Grandmasters, directed by Wong Kar Wai.

Le will take on Franklin, a former high school teacher who has faced some of the top fighters in the UFC over the course of his 13-year career, notching wins against Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Matt Hamill and Yushin Okami.

Franklin has never faced a striker like Le, whose dynamic attack and flashy kicks dazzle fans and devastate opponents.

UFC Macao will also feature South Korean MMA pioneer "Stun Gun" Kim Dong-hyun in a welterweight bout against Brazil's Paulo Thiago, as well as a light-heavyweight battle pitting unbeaten Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov against Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Silva.

Befitting the occasion, the event will feature the first Chinese fighter to compete in the Octagon, Zhang Tiequan.

Known as "The Wolf" for his ferocious style, Zhang has already won in the Octagon against Jason Reinhardt in a fight that received more than 100 million online hits in China.

Since reaching the Asian market in 2010, UFC has forged partnerships with multiple media organizations including Guangdong TV and SMG (Shanghai Media Group) to broadcast its live events and highlights, covering more than 4.5 million viewers around the country.

NOTES:

The fights will air live on numerous UFC broadcast partners in Asia and globally, as well as FUEL TV.

Fans can log on to www.cotaiticketing.com or www.HKTicketing.com to purchase tickets for the 15,000-seat venue.

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