• Mike Harrington

The UFC's next global expansion + UFC Shenzen picks

This Saturday the UFC returns to mainland China where for the first time, on native soil, a Chinese fighter attempts to become a world champion. As we saw in the mid 2000's with Dan Hardy getting a title fight with GSP in his 5th fight with the promotion, the UFC knows that the best way to make an impact in a new territory is by getting a belt on a native fighter.

As the UFC expands further and further on a global scale, now surpassing the NFL's official instagram account in followers, they now trail only the NBA on the platform when it comes to major sports leagues in the US and they are nipping at the heels of the EPL globally. As the UFC keeps adding tiny flags on their new and improved championship, the sport continues to grow globally. With Kamaru Usman, and Isreal Adesanya the brand has a strong foothold in Africa, Robert Whitaker is set to face off in an Australia vs New Zeland showdown against Adesanya in Melbourne in what looks to be the biggest live show the company has ever hosted, and we've already seen champions like Michael Bisping and Conor McGregor bring a new wellspring of fans in western Europe. I say all that to say this, the UFC really wants Weili Zhang to win this fight.

What's most interesting here though is that there is a massive crop of Chinesse fighters coming up. This isn't like the old days when the UFC was banking on Bisping or Hardy to break into the U.K. Instead China has a stacked roster of up and coming fighters, from #13 ranking bantamweight Song Yadong who's racked up 4 victories without a defeat, to Li Jingaling challenging Elizeu Dos Santos for his #14 ranking among welterweights. The UFC is stacked with a bunch of talented young prospects from the region, and they're already all in on China with a multi million dollar performance institute in Shanghai which will be over three times the size of the original PI in Las Vegas to develop the next crop of fighters. It stands to reason that if Zhang can't get it done, there will be another foray into china where another fighter will have an opportunity to put 1.8 Billion people on his or her back in an attempt to bring gold to the far east.

As the UFC becomes an ever expanding global company its clear what the powers that be at WME/IMG, now Endeavor, saw in the mixed martial arts powerhouse. While leagues like the MLB and NFL have been experimenting with games in Europe and Asia they have failed to garner the same foothold that 2 people getting in a cage and punching each other have. The rules are simple, the objective is simple and there is no need for a complicated scoring system to understand its cool to watch people hit each other. Whether Zhang gets it done in a few short hours matters little, because just having her fight for the title on the card will attract millions to watch the fight, and in most countries that's all it takes to win a legion of new fans. As these new fans are converted, the sport continues to grow as a new generation picks fighting over football or baseball or soccer and we are treated to superstars who otherwise never would have graced the octagon. Just think, 10 years earlier and Jon Jones probably would have played football like his brothers, but because there was a career path for the middle Jones brother he stuck with wrestling. That next superstar athlete could be debating between a career in Badminton or Ping Pong (China's top 2 sports currently) before checking out tonight's card.

There's quite a bit at stake here, so stop complaining about the 3AM start time.

Fight Picks

Each participant started with $500 in BYM Bucks. The Goal is to turn it into 10K over the next 8 events. In the interest of fairness I am going to be taking the lines from giving the best odds possible to each participant. For parlays, I will compile them all using one service and pick the one that gives the best parlay payout.

Bisping Starting Salary $500

Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos 250 Tw 96.15 (-260 @5Dimes)

Jessica Andrade 100 Tw 62.5 (-160 @Bovada)

Luis Starting Salary $500

Jessica Andrade 300 tw 187.5 (-160 @Bovada)

Harrington Starting Salary $500

Andrade vs Zhang over 3.5 rounds 208.5 tw 150 (-139 @Bet365)

Damir Ismagulov, Kai Kira France, Li Jingliang Parlay 30 Tw 201.46 (@5Dimes)

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