UFC’s first card in China since 2019 will reportedly move to Las Vegas

UFC's return to China reportedly won't happen as soon as expected.

By: Jack Wannan | 3 weeks ago
UFC’s first card in China since 2019 will reportedly move to Las Vegas
Song Yadong is still scheduled to compete next month, just not in China. | LouisxGrasse / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Saturday might not be UFC’s final “APEX” event of the year after all. The promotion’s December 9 card, which was originally scheduled to take place in Shanghai, China, reportedly might move to the UFC APEX studio location in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

After manager Shu Hirata posted that UFC Shanghai might move to Las Vegas, a report from Mike Heck and Damon Martin of MMA Fighting stated that the plan is for the event to move back stateside.

December 9 card loses five fights

Along with the potential change of location for UFC’s early December card, a series of changes to the lineup as well. Due to travel issues, a fight between light heavyweight Chinese UFC newcomer Zhang Mingyang and Brendson Ribeiro has departed the card, per Nolan King of MMA Junkie.

The report from MMA Junkie also confirmed that the event will no longer include the finals of this year’s Road To UFC tournament. The single-elimination brackets that kicked off earlier this year included four different weight classes and looked to give a spotlight to talents across Asia. The winner of each tournament (flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight) would get offered a contract.

The four grand final bouts of the bracket have reportedly departed the card along with the location change. The four tournament fights, which don’t have a rescheduled date just yet, included appearances from undefeated flyweight Japanese prospect Rei Tsuruya, ONE Championship alum Li Kaiwen, and Rongzhu, who will be fighting to get back onto the promotion’s roster.

UFC was set to make first appearance in Shanghai, China since 2017

UFC’s move away from Shanghai is not the first time in recent history that the promotion has backed out of an event in Asia. A card scheduled for February 4 this year was originally planned to take place in Seoul, South Korea, but was moved to Las Vegas after The Korean Zombie wasn’t able to compete on the card.

The promotion’s December 9 event was scheduled to be the promotion’s first card in China since the promotion went to Shenzhen in 2019. It was also set to be their first event in Shanghai since 2017, when Kelvin Gastelum and Michael Bisping headlined a Fight Night event. UFC has only visited Asia twice since the beginning of their APEX era in 2020, with both appearances being in Singapore – events that were both sponsored by the country’s Passion Made Possible brand, which is run by the Singapore Tourism Board.

Fight Night moves away from Shanghai, but a spotlight on Asian talent remains

While the promotion is moving away from Asia for this event, a load of talent from the region is still expected to compete. The main event is still scheduled to be a five-round bantamweight bout between Song Yadong and Chris Gutierrez. Lower on the card, flyweight contender Tatsuro Taira and Carlos Hernandez will meet. Also, Park Jun-yong will return against middleweight vet Andre Muniz.

With the reported removal of a few bouts recently along with the event location change, it’s worth noting that other matches could certainly fall off the card as well in the coming days. However, as it stands right now, it is just those five fights that won’t be taking place next month.

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About the author
Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for MMA-Prospects.com and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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