UFC Heads to Asia

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The UFC is heading to Asia, where many other sports have failed to take off, the Wall Street Journal reports:

To manage UFC’s Asian business, the fight group owned by Las Vegas-based Zuffa LLC is turning to Fischer with the hope that some of his magic touch in marketing the NBA can rub off on their fledgling Asian franchise.

Basketball has been one of the few American sports imports to become a winner in China.

Under Fischer’s direction from 2003 to 2008, the NBA managed to ink more than 20 marketing partnerships with leading brands in the country. Tsingtao, for instance, is now the official beer of the NBA in China. The NBA has actually set up a separate corporate entity for its China operations, which was valued at $2.3 billion when it was set up in 2008.

Other sports, which came to the party a little later, just haven’t had the hot hand when it comes to gaining acceptance in the Chinese market.

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. executives went on a China junket in 2007 to drum up sponsors and gauge what potential interest might exist for its brand of high-octane, fuel-fired racing thrills. So far, the answer appears to be very little. Meanwhile, the National Football League set its sights on China in 2009 and has been staging exhibitions and rebroadcasting games in the country with Chinese color-commentary. However it, too, seems to be getting blitzed in China.

Sports like auto-racing, football, and even baseball suffer from a want of attention in a country where the focus is on winning medals and national glory.

Major League Baseball has a 10-year development program that it has recently put in place in the country, but there are doubts about how successful it can be, according to reports in state media outlets. The marquee stadium in Beijing, built for the Olympic Games in 2008, has already been demolished to make room for new real estate developments.

This sounds like a job for Cung Le, who has successfully transitioned from sanshou to MMA.

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