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UFC to hold just 'two-to-three' events in Asia in 2015

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the fanfare surrounding the UFC's big announcement, laying out a 45-show schedule for 2015 (see it here), one detail which has largely been overlooked is the reference to "two or three" events being held in Asia next year with Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines touted as possible locations.

It's worth noting that UFC's Middle East and European divisions are separate entities from its Asian operations, so this figure would not include a show in Abu Dhabi, which was mentioned as a possible destination, but it still seems that this region will be seeing less of the Octagon in 2015 than it did the preceding year.

The UFC's 2014 schedule in Asia started out with a January show at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, which was headlined by an entertaining welterweight fight between Tarec Saffiedine and Hyung Gyu Lim, but it seems this is one destination which has been stricken from the list.

There were also two events at the Cotai Arena in Macau, which is owned by the same group as Marina Bay Sands, with Dong Hyun Kim taking on John Hathaway in the main event in March, and Michael Bisping facing Cung Le in a marquee middleweight match up in August.

China was mentioned as a potential 2015 destination and although Macau is technically a "Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China" (like Hong Kong), this probably means that UFC is planning on returning to the Cotai Arena, which is in the Venetian Resort & Casino, rather than targeting mainland cities like Beijing or Shanghai.

Since returning to Japan after a 12-year interlude in 2012, UFC has consistently put on one event per year at the Saitama Super Arena with the most recent card headlined by a heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson and it would be a major surprise if this pattern did not continue in 2015.

That leaves South Korea (I'm assuming when UFC says "Korea" they don't mean North...) and promotion president Dana White has already gone on record as saying that Seoul is a destination which will play host to the Octagon in 2015, although he was not specific about a date.

UFC is extremely popular in the Philippines and a Manila card was first touted way back in 2008 but, while there is undoubtedly a big enough existing fan base to sell out a decent-sized arena in Manila, it doesn't seem to be a priority for the promotion at present.

So what will the UFC's 2015 schedule in Asia look like? There will almost certainly be an event in Tokyo but beyond that, it's very difficult to predict with Seoul and Macau both being possibilities and an outside chance that the long-awaited Manila card will finally materialize.

With nine UFC events set for South America and five or six planned for Europe and the Middle East (by my geography this actually means four or five in Europe and three or four in Asia) it seems that opportunities for Asian fight fans to get a glimpse of the world's biggest MMA promotion will be few and far between in 2015.

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