MANILA, Philippines – If everything goes right, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is pushing through with its plan to hold a fight card in Manila this year.
During its media day for UFC 169, UFC president Dana White said he wanted to bring UFC to the Philippines because of the Filipinos love for mixed martial arts.
“Everybody's saying, we're not doing enough fights... there's places that are starving for it and that's what we set up this year. We're travelling all throughout in Asia. We wanna get down to the Philippines,” he said in an interview with Gretchen Malalad.
“We know there's so many fans out there and Filipinos love the UFC and love fighting.”
The UFC executive said they were supposed to hold a card in the Philippines years ago, but things fell apart due to sponsorship issues.
“What happened was we plan on doing that thing and we had a big sponsor behind us and the sponsor fell through,” he said. “[But] it's getting closer and closer now. What we're doing in China now, Philippines is next.”
The UFC is working in tandem with ABS-CBN’S Balls Channel, which has brought UFC superstars to the Philippines to promote MMA.
Among the UFC stars who have visited Manila are Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Alexander Gustafsson, Cung Le, Brandon Vera and Mark Muñoz.
White added that they are also preparing a UFC program to find local talents who could sign up with the MMA promotion.
“There are MMA gyms in the Philippines, I'm sure there's many. But again boxing's really good too because of Manny Pacquiao, so there's a lot of boxing gyms,” said White. “The reality is guys training down there can get into the UFC through this Asia program we put together.”