Bengaluru, January 6: The Ultimate Fighting Championship concluded the action packed 2021 with a record-breaking KO by Derrick Lewis in UFC Vegas 45.
The year which saw events hosted mostly behind closed doors featured some incredible bouts, champions being crowned and some top performances including the Asian athletes in the promotion.
Now as we are closing in on the first event of 2022, here is a look at some of the accomplishments and highlights of Asia in UFC during 2021:
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF UFC'S ASIAN ATHLETES
With an incredible performance in her rematch for the UFC strawweight championship, China's Zhang Weili cemented her status as the number 1 contender, and remains in prime position for another shot at the belt. Yan Xiaonan also remains on the top of the strawweight leaderboard at #4, poised to launch into title contention as well.
Sumudaerji jumped into the flyweight rankings in 2021 and holds the #13 spot at year's end. At bantamweight, Song Yadong kept himself ranked all year with back-to-back wins and sits at #14. Perennial welterweight favorite Li Jingliang holds onto #13 at the end of the year and after an eventful 2021, looks to make a renewed climb towards the top 10.
New Chinese athletes continued to impress in 2021. Debutants Rong Zhu and Shayilan, both UFC Academy graduates, ended the year with victories, and Maheshate became the first from China to win a UFC contract on Dana White's Contender Series.
"Korean Zombie" Jung Chan-Sung's incredible rebound on 2021 places him as #4 in the featherweight division, and one of the most talked about future contenders for 2022. The newest South Korean athletes impressed across the board.
Light heavyweight Jung Da-Un won both of his 2021 matches, the final by KO. Debutant featherweight Choi Seung-Woo went 2-1 in an active campaign and gained acclaim as an up-and-comer to watch.
Mongolia's lone representative Danaa Batgerel had a splendid year with two first-round KOs, setting himself up for a possible bantamweight ranking in 2022, and Thailand's flag bearer Loma Lookboonmee remains a fan favorite for her exciting Muay Thai style.
UFC HIGHLIGHTS IN ASIA
The UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai leapt into the headlines throughout the 2021 Olympics as the China Olympic Committee's Official High Performance Advisor when numerous teams and athletes, such as snowboard medalists Liu Jiayu and Cai Xuetong, delivered stellar performances after participating in UFC PI training.
The government continues to support the partnership going into the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The UFC Academy sent the very first contingent of six graduates to Las Vegas where they participated in the 10th season of Dana White's Contender Series.
Along with the aforementioned Maheshate, there are now six UFC Academy graduates who have signed to UFC.
In an historic period of growth, UFC secured ten new broadcast partners in Southeast Asia including PCCW in Hong Kong; Mola in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; Astro and Telekom in Malaysia; Canal+ in Myanmar; Singtel and StarHub in Singapore; Tap DMV in the Philippines; TrueVisions in Thailand and Cambodia; and VSTV in Vietnam.
For the first time, live commentary is presented in Bahasa, Thai, Cantonese, and Vietnamese.
UFC President Dana White held his first-ever exclusive interviews in Asia. With Sony Pictures Network in India, Dana discussed the future of UFC in the country, watched a montage of top fighter shoutouts, and even tried a special Indian dish.
With Mola in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, he gave a discourse in business, discussing how he built the UFC and his success formula.
With SPOTV in South Korea, Dana spoke about the growth in Asia and the continuing strong showing of Korean athletes. The interviews were among the highest watched on each partner's platforms.
Just in time for South Korea's winter gear season and perfectly timed to the current sport-crossover branding trends, UFC partner Shinhan revealed their new exclusive UFC-branded fashion line "UFC Sport", and appeared on hit TV series "Show Me the Money".
UFC's Korean athletes continued to be in demand outside the Octagon as Korean Zombie's TV appearances included "Kang Ho Dong's Soul Food" and "You Are My Destiny", while Jung Da-Un had a feature with GQ Korea, and participated with Park Jun-Yong in "The Strong Man Season 2".
Source: Press Release