Dana White’s Contender Series will continue its expansion globally with the addition of an Asia-based version of the show. The first season of the new series, which is set to take place in the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, will debut in 2020.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is looking for up-and-coming talent,” Dana White said in the press release. “There’s no area in the world right now with more potential MMA talent than Asia. We’re going to use Dana White’s Contender Series to find these fighters, develop them, and give them the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in combat sports.”
The addition of the Asian series marks the third version of the show since the inception of the original in 2017.
The first expansion took place in the form of Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil. The series was prerecorded rather than live and aired over the course of three weeks on Combate, Globo and SporTV.
Contender Series Brazil consisted of 15 fights total, all of which took place on Aug. 10 and 11, 2018 inside The Ultimate Fighter Gym. It produced fighters such as Johnny Walker, Augusto Sakai, Rogerio Bontorin and Marina Rodriguez in its lone season to date.
The original Contender Series launched in 2017 to much success.
The show originally was exclusive to UFC Fight Pass in its first two seasons before airing on ESPN+ starting in the summer of 2019 due to the UFC’s move away from FOX. The show also moved from broadcasting from the TUF Gym to the UFC Apex for the most recent season.
The original United States-based series has featured fighters such as Geoff Neal, Alonzo Menifield, Maycee Barber and Sodiq Yusuff.
White’s inclusion of the Asian series highlights the continued push by the UFC into the Asian market. The UFC hosted a Fight Night card in Singapore on Oct. 26 and is scheduled to host another in Busan, South Korea on Dec. 21, the final event on the UFC’s calendar for 2019.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.