UFC to return to Shanghai with Fight Night, Road to UFC Season 2 Finals

The UFC, the world's premier mixed martial arts promotion, has announced its return to China with UFC Fight Night Shanghai on December 9.

After a four-year hiatus, UFC Fight Night Shanghai is scheduled to take place at the newly renovated Shanghai Indoor Stadium in the central Xuhui District. Rio Strong, a sparkling wine brand and an official partner of UFC, will be presenting the event.

The event will feature the finals of Road to UFC season 2, a knockout tournament designed to uncover the best MMA talent in Asia. Four final bouts will take place on the preliminary card. The winners of these bouts will be awarded the coveted UFC contracts.

Sum Huang, CEO of Endeavor China, the official promoter of UFC events in Shanghai, expressed his enthusiasm about the event.


"Endeavor China's partnership with UFC has been instrumental in the rapid growth of MMA in China, and we are proud to play a role in serving passionate combat sports fans across the country," said Huang.

"Building on our successful debut in Shanghai in 2017, we are excited to bring another sensational event to the city and highlight the promising new wave of UFC athletes representing our country inside the rejuvenated Shanghai Indoor Stadium."

Kevin Chang, UFC's senior vice president and head of Asia, also echoed his enthusiasm for the return to Shanghai.

"Our first UFC Shanghai event back in 2017 was a historic evening that broke records, created lasting memories, and announced UFC's arrival in mainland China," said Chang.

"We can't wait to put on another incredible show for our passionate fans and showcase the next generation of UFC athletes from the country."


Building on past success

The UFC has faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily holding events at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas and select locations. The upcoming return marks the fourth UFC event in mainland China and the second event in Shanghai.

"To be able to host this event back where it all started, in this incredible city where we are headquartered and have made significant investments to change the sport, is a fitting way to write the next chapter of the growth of MMA in China," said Chang.

The popularity of Chinese fighters like Yan Xiaonan and Song Yadong has added to the growing MMA fervor in the country.


Back in August 2019, China saw resounding success at a UFC Fight Night event in Shenzhen. Weili Zhang captured the strawweight title by stopping Jéssica Andrade in just 42 seconds.

"Magnum" would later lose the belt, but she reclaimed the title by submitting Carla Esparza last year. She further solidified her reign by delivering a dominant performance against Amanda Lemos in August.

Rumors of UFC's return to China had been circulating for a while. Before the official announcement of Shanghai as the event's location, several fights had already been booked for a December 9 event.

A lineup of Chinese fighters is expected to feature prominently on the card. However, the UFC has yet to confirm which matchup will serve as the headlining bout.