The UFC will open the world's largest MMA training facility in Shanghai next year, the company announced Monday.
The UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will consist of a 93,000-square-foot facility, which is more than three times larger than the UFC's Performance Institute in Las Vegas. That 30,000-square-foot facility opened in conjunction with the UFC's headquarters in 2017.
The announcement is one of the UFC's most aggressive moves to date, in its effort to break into the Chinese market.
"There is over a billion people in China and that economy is booming, it's a big initiative for us," UFC president Dana White told ESPN. "And the way you make a market grow is find a world champion who is from there.
"When you become a global brand like the UFC, breaking into every new market has its ups and downs, it's own challenges. It doesn't happen overnight. I think building this facility -- not everybody who goes through there will be a world champion, but you know what it will do? It will create some great coaches who will go out and open a jiu-jitsu studio somewhere, or a Muay Thai school. That's how you ignite the sport and get it to grow."
The facility will be similar to the one in Las Vegas, in that it will be fully staffed by a team of MMA coaches, strength and conditioning experts, physical therapists and nutritionists. The UFC allows its contracted athletes to use the facilities and services at no cost. According to White, the UFC is also planning to open a facility in Mexico at a later date.
In November 2017, the UFC held its first live event in mainland China. The UFC Fight Night event took place at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, and was headlined by a middleweight bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Michael Bisping. Its second Shanghai event is scheduled to take place Saturday.
The UFC has hosted a developmental program for China in the past, which brought Chinese fighters to the U.S. or sent coaches to the region. Currently, there are 10 Chinese fighters under contract with the UFC.
The new facility will include an area conducive to live broadcasts, meaning the UFC will likely air live fights from the building, similar to what it has done at The Ultimate Fighter gym in Las Vegas for years.
"We can film live fights out of there that will go up on [internet subscription service] Fight Pass," White said. "A version of Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series, The Ultimate Fighter and whatever else I can come up with."