How UFC and MMA in general is expanding in Asia

  • An analysis of the growth of MMA and UFC in Asia.
Simon Morris
Modified 23 Aug 2019, 15:18 IST

Mix Martial Arts
Mix Martial Arts

We have seen that in the last few years, people across the world have taken a great interest in UFC and Mixed Martial Arts in general.

It has become hugely popular in Russia and Australia too with champions like Nurmagomedov and Whittaker being popular with the audience.

UFC has also consistently held events in Asia, and it is interesting to contemplate how popular it could be if there were an Asian fighter to become the UFC Champion.

Impact across the world

The markets of Asia have had quite an important role in influencing the global impact of MMA today. Japan had mixed martial arts championships through Pride Fighting Championship which was a top organisation in the past, and had set the standards for future MMA organisations.

Pride FC came into being in 1997, and had around 23 significant events that had at least 30,000 people in attendance within just a decade of their start. But in UFC, it has been around twenty-five years, but only three major events saw ticket sales of over 30,000.

UFC had bought Pride FC in March of 2007, and the owners of UFC felt that it would enable them hold matches where the best fighters could fight against each other. This move enabled a lot of legendary matches.

However, it has been more than ten years after the end of Pride FC before MMA finally starting becoming popular once again in Eastern Asia, with new fighters and a brand new image.

Today Rizin Fight Federation and One Championship are becoming quite popular with MMA fans.


One Championship is a Singapore based company, and it made some headlines in the USA quite recently. One Championship and UFC made an MMA trade between their respective organisations in October.


UFC had sent their former flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, to One Championship, in return for Ben Askren who is undefeated there. These exchanges help in promoting brands across nations, and getting fans to tune in, adding a fresh flavour to the sport for the audience.

One Championship has been signing a lot of fighters from UFC, and also some former champions. Turner Sports has also made a three year deal for broadcasting One Championship events. 

UFC will also be making more inroads in Eastern Asia, with a performance in Shanghai. This event will see a host of legendary UFC fighters squaring off against each other. It is scheduled to take place in the middle of 2019, and would be a huge crowd puller.


UFC has become very popular in the last few years. Today it is collaborating a lot with Asian MMA organisations to make more progress in Asia. Hopefully, in the future it will be more popular with better fighters from all across the globe.

Published 11 Jan 2019, 19:54 IST
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