MANILA, Philippines – Is Ultimate Fighting Championship coming to the Philippines? UFC president Dana White says that the archipelago nation is one of the mixed martial arts promotion’s target destinations.
Speaking with reporter Gretchen Malalad, Dana White said that the U.S.-based mixed martial arts promotion wants to host events in the Philippines as part of their 2014 expansion into the Asian market.
“We want to get down to the Philippines,” said White at a press conference for Saturday’s UFC 169 event at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The event will be headlined by the clash between former heavyweight champions Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir.
“We know it’ll be huge in the Philippines,” continued White. “Years ago we were gonna go to the Philippines and it all fell apart. What would happen is, we were planning on doing that thing and we had a big sponsor behind us and then that sponsor fell through.”
UFC, which has already planned to do seven events throughout Asia in 2014, hosted a show earlier this year at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and plans to do shows in Macau. Dave Galera, the first Filipino-born fighter to compete in the world’s no. 1 MMA promotion, lost a decision to Royston Wee on the recent Singapore card.
Filipino-American fighters Mark Munoz and Brandon Vera have been among the most popular competitors in UFC in recent years. Last year, Honorio Banario won the One FC featherweight title to become the first Pinoy to hold a major title in MMA.
White believes that as more MMA events take place in Asia, the sport will grow in the Philippines and expose more talent to new opportunities.
“Obviously what we’re doing over in China now, the Philippines is next,” said White. “We know there’s so many fans down there and that the Filipinos love UFC and love fighting. As we go into this Asian market I think we’re going to see a lot of talent come out of the Philippines.
“There could be some MMA gyms in the Philippines, and I’m sure there’s plenty. I’m sure boxing is pretty big there too because of Manny Pacquiao and there’s a lot of boxing gyms. The reality is, guys training down there can get into the UFC through this whole Asia program we’ve put together.”
Currently, One Fighting Championship, Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC) and Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) are the major players in the Philippine MMA market. – Rappler.com