By Sammy Hurwitz
On Saturday, the UFC will hold its inaugural event in Singapore. The event will serve as a representation of the incredible growth and size of the UFC, since it’s birth 20 years ago.
Last week, at UFC 168, fighters on the card hailed from the United States, Brazil, Jamaica, Germany, Armenia, and Afghanistan. Saturday’s fight card is also very diverse, featuring fighters from all around Asia, as well as fighters from the United States, Brazil, Russia, Guam, and Belgium. MMA is widely regarded as the fastest growing sport in the world, and it is of course clear that the UFC is the premier association within the sport. Years ago, the UFC and MMA were barely regarded as a legitimate promotion and sport by many, but rather looked at—as senator John McCain so boldly claimed—“human cockfighting.” Since the UFC’s birth, its legitimacy has been proven without a doubt. In 2011, the UFC struck a deal with Fox, and held an inaugural event in Anaheim, CA. The event pulled an incredible 5.7 million viewers. Next, the UFC signed a deal with the new Fox Sports 1, further growing their brand, and putting to rest any doubt of the legitimacy of MMA and the UFC.
On Saturday, the UFC will take another step in the right direction, when it debuts in Singapore and furthers it’s Asian invasion. These fights—although not containing many top fighters—are extremely important. When debuting in a new setting, there is immense pressure on everyone involved to put on a good show. The excitement level of these fights may have great implications on whether the UFC will gain a significant new fan base, or if their success in Southeast Asia is not currently in the cards.
Many of these fights will have no affect on the UFC’s top 15 rankings. However, their existence on the card is not a mistake. The card is no dud. Many of the fighters on the card are far more familiar to fans in Asia, which is who the event is primarily catered to. The main event, however, is very interesting. In a five round bout, top welterweight contender Tarec Saffiedine faces one of Asia’s top fighters in Hyun Gyu Lim. Saffiedine came to the UFC from Strikeforce, and was the last man to hold Strikeforce’s welterweight belt. He has defeated elite fighters such Tyler Stinson, Roger Bowling and Nate Marquardt. This will be his first fight in the UFC. His opponent, Hyun Gyu Lim is currently on seven-fight win streak, two of those coming in the UFC, against Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss. Saffiedine will be looking to improve his already impressive ranking, while Lim—a South Korea native—will be looking to earn a win in his home continent, while simultaneously cementing himself as a legitimate welterweight contender.
The fights begin on 6AM ET, in the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.