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Does the UFC have a real future in China?

TOKYO – After testing the waters with a trio of events in Macau, the UFC soon makes its debut in Mainland China. Is there a future there, though?

The U.S.-based UFC has debuted and grown across the globe over the past decade, but China – with 1.4 billion residents (more than 18 percent of the world’s population) – proved to be a tough market to crack for the world’s leading MMA promotion.

However, on Nov. 25, with UFC Fight Night 122 and an Anderson Silva (34-8 MMA, 17-4 UFC) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) headliner, the UFC finally touches down in Mainland China. The event takes place at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and streams on UFC Fight Pass.

“We evaluated for a long time what was the right timing to enter the market,” UFC Vice President of Asia Pacific Kevin Chang told MMAjunkie. “This process started – I mean, we’ve been in China from a broadcasting perspective for the past eight years, so it isn’t something that happened overnight.”

According to Chang, the process started by getting a foothold with media/broadcasting partners and then educating the masses. It worked, but it started fairly small.

“It started from a really loyal and niche following, really,” said Chang, who remains bullish on the market. “They did know (the sport). But now it’s grown into something much, much bigger.”

So what’s next for China and other Asian markets? Chang said the opportunities are limitless.

Check out the video above for more on those plans, as well as some info on tonight’s UFC Fight Night 117 event in Saitama, Japan.

And for more on UFC Fight Night in Shanghai, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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