The UFC has announced plans to launch the first-ever Asia edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, the TV show that unearths up-and-coming talent.
The inaugural season will launch early 2020 and be hosted from the newly-launched UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is looking for up-and-coming talent,” UFC boss Dana White said in a statement.
“There’s no area in the world right now with more potential MMA talent than Asia. We’re going to use Dana White’s Contender Series to find these fighters, develop them and give them the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in combat sports.”
At 93,000 square feet, the Shanghai Performance Institute is the world’s largest MMA training and development facility – nearly three times as large as the original UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
The structure was built with full production capabilities and seating that allows UFC host events and create original programming.
Like its US counterpart, Dana White’s Contender Series Asia will feature both male and female athletes across all 11 UFC weight classes. Results will count towards athletes’ professional records.
In the United States, the series has launched UFC careers for the likes of bantamweight Sean O’Malley (10-0); heavyweight Greg Hardy (5-1); and flyweight Maycee Barber (8-0).
The UFC’s foray into the China market has paid off handsomely. It’s growing pool of Chinese talent was thrust into the spotlight in August, as Zhang Weili (20-1) claimed the women’s strawweight title in Shenzhen.
Details about fight schedules, format and participants will be announced at a later date.