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MMA: Rousey, Bisping believe Asia is the ‘new frontier’ for UFC

Ronda Rousey described Asia as the ‘new frontier’ for the UFC, the MMA’s leading organisation. Photos: SportAsia.

Ronda Rousey described Asia as the ‘new frontier’ for the UFC, the MMA’s leading organisation. Photos: SportAsia.

August 24, 2014: Women’s champion Ronda Rousey and No. 8-ranked middleweight contender Michael Bisping both agree that Asia is the next key market for the UFC, MMA’s leading organisation.

 

Bisping beat Cung Le in the headline bout in Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night Macao, while Rousey and UFC President Dana White were among those watching the fight at The Venetian after joining the card’s star fighters in promotional activities in Hong Kong and Macau throughout the week.

 

Rousey, 27, has become arguably the sport’s most famous fighter since making her UFC debut last year and the outspoken star was also in Macau for The Expendables 3 premiere on Friday night, another sign of her growing fame.

 

The first American to win an Olympic judo medal with her bronze at Beijing 2008, Rousey said Asia and particularly Greater China was a key market for not only the UFC but also for herself, as her own profile grows with further film roles in Fast & Furious 7 and Entourage.

 

“I think this is a huge market and kind of like the new frontier, not just for the UFC but for movies as well,” Rousey told SportAsia.

 

“I want to have appeal internationally and fighting is one of those sports that’s not limited to one region. It belongs everywhere and China, Macau and Hong Kong are the areas I really want to focus on next.”

 

Bisping, who shares Rousey’s punchy manner inside and outside of the ring, was also adamant that the UFC would increasingly focus on Asia, where rival body One FC is focusing all its efforts, albeit with less prestigious fighters.

 

Michael Bisping said: “The UFC are committed and when they’re committed to a market, they go after it very aggressively.”

Michael Bisping said: “The UFC are committed and when they’re committed to a market, they go after it very aggressively.”

“I can see the UFC holding more fights in this part of the world. I know the UFC are committed to growing this market and from a business standpoint, why wouldn’t you. It’s a huge market, especially with the tradition of martial arts from this part of the world. It makes sense,” the Englishman told SportAsia.

 

“The UFC are committed and when they’re committed to a market, they go after it very aggressively. I know they did it in the UK, Europe, Brazil, and this is the next one. I think we’re going to see more and more events, which means it will attract more and more sponsors, more and more fighters. It’s just going to grow and grow.”

 

Bisping, who lives in California, spent much of last week talking up his own chances of victory against Le and talking down his opponent. However, he conceded that when he removed himself from pre-fight trash talk, he believed the Vietnamese American was a good role model for MMA fighters in Asia.

 

“If I take myself out of the fight situation, he seems like a great guy and I can’t think of a better person to help with the expansion of the UFC in Asia,” Bisping said.

 

Korean stars Kim ‘Stun Gun’ Dong-hyun (welterweight) and Jung ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan-sung (featherweight), and Japanese duo Takeya Mizugaki (bantamweight) and Kyoji Horiguchi (flyweight) are among the Asian fighters in the UFC’s top ranks.

 

Kim was stopped by No. 4-ranked contender Tyron Woodley in Saturday’s co-main event, five months after the Korean knocked out John Hathaway in the headline fight at the previous UFC Fight Night Macao in March.

 

Several Chinese fighters made their UFC debut on Saturday. Zhang Lipeng beat Brendan O’Reilly on the four-bout main card after the 24-year-old from Inner Mongolia earned a UFC contract by winning The Ultimate Fighter China, beating Wang Sai in the welterweight final in Macau.

 

Despite losing in March, Wang also earned a UFC contract that night and on Saturday the 28-year-old beat England’s Danny Mitchell in one of the preliminary fights.

 

Zhang and Wang were among six Chinese fighters on the 10-bout card, which also included Japanese fighters Yuta Sasaki and Shinsho Anzai, Singapore’s Royston Wee and Hong Kong-based Brazilian Alberto Mina.

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