Well we are only a few hours away from the much anticipated UFC Shanghai event in China. This is the first ever UFC event on mainland China. Michael Bisping vs Kevin Gastelum as we all know at this stage headline the card in a middleweight bout.
I have seen it written that the card here is weak bar maybe the main event. This misses the point of why the UFC are in China. This event is about opening up the UFC to a country and potential audience of 1.4 billion people. As a result there are 8 Chinese MMA fighters on the card.
The welterweight Li Jingliang is the only one of those names that would be in any way familiar to UFC fans. He has a solid UFC record and as result is down as Co-main event here with Zak Ottow.
What Dana White will be hoping for here is that one of the 8 Chinese mixed martial artists will light a touch fire to the imaginations of the Shanghai Crowd and catapult MMA into the hearts and minds of the wider Chinese public. In short the UFC are hoping to find a Chinese Conor Mcgregor or Ronda Rousey at UFC Shanghai. If the UFC could somehow manage to do that then the 4 billion bucks paid for the company a couple of years ago will start to look like money well spent.
Mercedes Benz Arena
This event is being held at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai which has a capacity of 18,000 people. This is the first thing to look out for – Is the event sold out or close to sold out.
A little known fact about MMA in China is that professional fighters are treated and funded in a similiar fashion to Olympic Athletes. The Teams and Gyms are funded by public money. As most of you are aware China is a communist run country, so to have this backing is a huge plus for anyone trying to break into the market. So it is not as if the UFC are trying to roll a boulder up a mountain. There is a huge appetite for Mixed martial arts already.
Now the intricacies of how a private, for profit company come into a communist country running an event like this probably has a number of complications. The fact that Dana White has got the Chinese authorities to sanction the event on the mainland is a huge step forward though.
Now if you think that doesn’t sound like a big achievement bear in mind that 7 days ago the communication tool SKYPE was basically removed from use in the country. No explanation given. This is a country that wants to control everything whether that be how people communicate with the outside world or whether it be what sporting events the people go and see. It is a big achievement by Dana White to get this event sanctioned.
Now of course, to many people China is the home of Martial Arts and as such the appetite for MMA should be huge. Many of tonight’s competitors come from a Sanda background. The main benefit of this Martial art discipline is the emphasis on take down defence. So keep an eye for this particular skill in execution at UFC Shanghai.
While there are many unfamiliar names tonight i see the Heavyweight Chase Sherman is fighting at Heavyweight in the prelims and it will be interesting to see how he gets on in this environment.
But remember tonight is not about the Michael Bisping’s and Kevin Gastelum’s or chase Sherman’s of the world. Tonight is about hoping to stumble across the Chinese Conor McGregor. What a Chinese Conor Mcgregor might like is anyone’s guess but in a city of 26 million people i’m sure they’ll know him or her if they see them.
Keep an eye for the teenager Song Yadong. He is the youngest fighter on the entire UFC roster and i have a funny feeling Dana White doesn’t sign Teenagers for no Reason…
Enjoy UFC Shanghai!!