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The UFC Plans Big Asian Expansion in 2014

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Photo Courtesy UFC Facebook page

The UFC plans a major show this weekend in Singapore, in what will just be the kickoff of several more international events planned for the UFC.

The USA Today reported that Asia has been home to seven events in the last 20 years, but that the UFC could stage seven shows in Asian countries next year.

Former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine will fight Hyun Gyu Lim at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Saturday. Saffiedine (14-3) and Lim (12-3-1, will fight in a five-round main event of a 10-fight card.

The show will air on the as part of the UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s new digital network.
“We’ve got Saturday’s event in Singapore, and we’re looking at a couple of events this year in Macau,” UFC Asia Managing Director Mark Fischer told USA TODAY Sports. “We’re looking, as well, at a new multi-year agreement to come to Japan at least once a year. We’re in discussions with partners in Seoul, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta. I don’t expect all of these to happen in 2014, but we’ll be coming to all of these places soon enough. Mainland China is also on the horizon.

“We’re turning from sort of a one-off event to really a self-sustaining business model. We’re building up the team to make that happen.”

The UFC held an event in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo in 2012 and 2013. Fischer said the fans should expect more events.

“Like anything, it takes time,” Fischer said. “A long journey starts with a single step. But by having more fights in this region, we open up many more spots and convenient opportunities for fighters from Asia and create local relevance by having these fights in Asia.”

Saffiedine will make his UFC debut at the show. He was the last Strikeforce welterweight champion, beating Nate Marquardt to win the title. Zuffa purchased Strikeforce and then shut the company down in January of 2013.

Tatsuya Kawajiri will also fight Sean Soriano on the card.