By Thomas Gerbasi
The UK. Ireland. Canada. Germany. Australia. Abu Dhabi. China?
Well, if UFC President Dana White has his way, China will be one of the future stops on the UFC’s ever expanding world tour, telling the media during the UFC 109 pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas that the Asian nation is “on our hit list right now.”
This statement came right after White proudly flexed for a reporter when asked his thoughts on the UFC being broadcast live into China for the first time this Saturday night.
“We like it,” he grinned before continuing. “We’re very happy. We just did this deal with Abu Dhabi (Flash Entertainment), and through that, we knew that these guys were going to be great strategic partners. China is on our hit list right now, especially now that we’ve got Sohu.”
UFC 109 will air live on China’s Sohu.com, which is the biggest website in the country, with over two billion registered worldwide users. Also the official web partner for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the official partner of the NBA, ESPN, Adidas and Sports Illustrated in China, Sohu.com will bring the Octagon action to more people than ever before this weekend, opening up even more opportunities for the UFC’s international expansion, as well as in its target demographic.
“Basically, in China, the way that it works over there is that all the 18 to 34 males don’t watch (conventional) TV,” explained White. “They go to this website and that’s where they watch all their television.”
It’s the second major foray into China for the UFC, which debuted programming last summer to millions through Inner Mongolia Television (NMTV), a network available in 60 million households. But Saturday’s UFC 109 broadcast on Sohu.com will be the first ever live event aired there, and White can’t wait for the first bell to ring.
“We did a major deal with these guys, and we’re really pumped about it,” he said.