ASIA - South-eat Asia has the potential to produce a championship contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) within the next three to five years.
Said Mark Fischer, managing director of UFC Asia: "The 'Korean Zombie' (Chan Sung Jung) just fought for the featherweight title two weeks ago and nobody had ever heard of him five years ago.
"People can emerge quickly in this sport... and a three-to-five-year time frame is very conceivable."
Chan challenged UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for his title in Rio de Janeiro earlier this month but lost the bout in the fourth round.
Speaking at a media luncheon with UFC legend Forrest Griffin on Thursday, Fischer announced that the highly-popular mixed martial arts (MMA) championship will hold its first event in South-east Asia here on Jan 4 next year.
While details will be announced at a press conference in October, the event is likely to be held at the Marina Bay Sands, with UFC inking a multi-year deal with Sands China Ltd last month to bring regular live events to Asia.
Fischer pointed out to the grassroots development of the sport here - the mushrooming of MMA gyms and other championships - as reasons for bringing the combat sport to this region.