Fans of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Singapore will already know that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s most famous MMA organisation, is set to hold its first live 2017 Asian event in Singapore — UFC FIGHT NIGHT SINGAPORE will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 17. If you’re new to the sport and all the visceral thrills it can offer, here’s a quick primer from Joe Carr, UFC Senior Vice-President of International Business, on why this upcoming event may be a perfect night out, even for MMA neophytes.
1.You’re looking for a new hotspot to see and be seen
The front-row seats around the famous UFC Octagon ring is sometimes referred to as “celebrity row”, and it’s typically populated with A-listers from the world of entertainment, sports and other high net-worth fans who want to get as close to the action as possible. “These are also people we want to protect, rather than have them out among the crowd,” Joe explains. “In each place where we hold our events, we connect with the local influencers in that region, because we know there are UFC fans among them .”
Hard-core fans can also sign up for the UFC VIP Experience, which will give you access to exclusive perks like backstage tours, the chance to get inside The Octagon for a photo opportunity, and a meet-and-greet with UFC fighters. “It’s a combination of getting the best seats in the house and the experience of spending time with your heroes,” says Joe.
2.You’re a millennial with a short attention span
“In my mind, there is something visceral and attractive about combat sports that you can’t get with any other sport, and UFC gives you a completely different feeling and atmosphere,” says Joe. “With social media, people have short attention spans now, and it’s hard to convince someone to sit there through a four-hour baseball game or a full Sunday of golf. Our fights are 15 minutes long, some are even shorter than that because of knock-outs and submissions. So you’re talking about bite-sized individual bouts, and the whole night is programmed to crescendo towards the main bout. It’s a lot more dynamic, and built for the 21st century.”
3.You’re jaded by Laneway and looking for a new source of live entertainment
“Mixed Martial Arts is a lot sexier than the traditional sports. The boys like it, and the girls like it too, because a UFC Fight Night doesn't necessarily feel like a sporting event," Joe believes. “It’s almost like a big night out on the town, there’s a concert atmosphere, people get dressed up, we have a DJ playing in between fights. I’ve invited so many people to these events who came with no interest in UFC, and they found it so much fun that they became fans. It’ like the Super Bowl, once you experience the spectacle and energy and see how excited people get, you can’t not get into it.”
4.You want to see new Asian superstar athletes in action
UFC has just signed Wang Guan, a 31-year-old featherweight fighter known as “The Dongbei Tiger” and considered China’s most promising MMA athlete. He hopes to make his debut at UFC Fight Night Singapore in June.
The fighters for the Singapore event haven’t been announced yet, but fans can expect a good mix of UFC’s international superstars and the powerhouse Asian athletes in its roster. Also look out for UFC fighters making their regional presence felt in ways that will be more glamour than grit as the brand tries to expand its Asian footprint.
“One thing about Asia is that it’s so locally nuanced and unique that we need to think through things differently. We’ll be taking more of a health, fitness, lifestyle, and fashion angle, getting our fighters in those publications, in different campaigns,” says Joe. “Asia gravitates towards that aspirational aspect, so that will be amplified here a bit more. This sport and our brand are both quite young in Asia, so we need to attach ourselves to other bigger brands, to grow the awareness.”
UFC has scouts all over the world looking for the best fighters, and as the brand builds its presence in the region, it could one day have a dedicated scout rooting out the top talent in Southeast Asia. “A lot of work goes into the scouting and match-making, which means pairing fighters for the bouts. We are going to invest more in that, because obviously that’s the lifeblood of the company.”
5.You’re a Singapore sports fan looking for the next big thing on the scene
UFC is staking out its place on Singapore’s sports calendar, which already boasts juggernauts like the F1 Night Race and the WTA Finals. The June 17 event will be UFC’s second foray here — it held its first Singapore fight in 2014. “This time, the event will be bigger and more high-profile, with a full week’s worth of fringe activities around the Saturday fight,” says Joe. “It’s time for us to have a more meaningful presence in Southeast Asia. Singapore is our Asian headquarters, so it is our own backyard, and we are excited to be back.”
For more information, visit UFC Singapore.