From Saitama, Japan to Queensland, Australia, the UFC’s expansion strategy reached new heights in 2013. Vitor Belfort defeated Michael Bisping in the first of seven trips the promotion took to Brazil, each time visiting a different city. With events targeted in Russia and Mexico next year, Dana White looks to build on that momentum with 15 international events spanning all corners of the globe.
However, the UFC isn’t the only MMA organization searching for an overseas audience. Anyone with an internet connection can stream fight, giving promotions like K-1 and World Series of Fighting incentive to market their brand around the world. In 2014, they look for an audience outside of their typical geographic area, and in doing so, look to give the UFC a run for their money.
Here’s a look at five MMA international events worth waiting for in 2014.
1. UFC Fight Night 34: Saffiendine vs. Lim
There are two reasons why this is the UFC’s pivotal event of the New Year. One, it’s the debut of the newly-introduced ‘Fight Pass,’ which lets viewers all over the world watch fights in real time. More importantly, this is the UFC’s first visit to Singapore.
Welterweights Tarec Saffiedine and Hyun Gyu Lim headline the main card with Tatsuya Kawajiri facing Sean Soriano in the co-main event. Kawajiri is considered one of the top, if not the best, lightweight in the world.
2. World Series of Fighting Brazil
Little is known about WSOF’s first trip to Brazil, other than it will occur sometime in 2014. Rousimar Palhares, Paulo Filho, and Jorge Santiago are among half a dozen fighters aching to represent their native country.
One fight is official with Jorge Patino facing Jose Landi-Jons. They fought twice in the mid-90s, with Landi-Jons winning by stoppage each time. WSOF has not set a venue for this event.
3. UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa
While the world waits for his rematch with Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson first has a match with Jimi Manuwa to worry about. It will be the UFC’s first visit to the O2 Arena since UFC 120 in Oct. 2010.
Gustafsson was slated to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira before an injury forced ‘Lil’ Nog’ to bow out. Ross Pearson will represent England in the co-main event against American Melvin Guillard. They look to settle the score, since their October scuffle ended in a no contest.
4. The Ultimate Fighter China Finale
TUF China already airs live on Liaoning Satellite TV, but the finale doesn’t take place until March 2014. Watching the UFC’s first extended stay in Asia is as good of a reason as any to subscribe to the ‘Fight Pass.’
UFC lightweight Zhang Tiequan coaches against retired Art of War fighter Ao Hailin. While the 16 contestants aren’t exactly household names, a fighter’s drive to win a contract doesn’t change.
5. K-1 World MAX 2013 World Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Kickboxing is made for a tournament format and K-1 delivers world-class matches year after year. The tournament’s quarter final takes place in Gran Canaria, Spain, with Elam Ngor making his first K-1 World MAX Final 8 appearance against K-1 veteran Lee Sung-Hyun.
With an abundance of Superfights, K-1 flaunts kickboxing talent from all over the world. The 2013 World MAX Quarter Final airs live on Jan. 11 on Epicentre.tv.