THE new Chinese backers of Australia’s leading mixed martial arts promotion believe they can build an empire that will rival the UFC and One Championship.
And plans are already afoot to take the Australian Fighting Championships around the globe after striking a landmark deal this week.
Owners of the AFC — Adam Milankovic and Kelly Seif — have moved into a joint venture with three prominent businessmen to take to promotion to China.
AFC18, headlined by the lightweight title fight between Rob Hill and James Bishop, will be held inside Xian Olympic Stadium in Shanghai on March 12.
It will be the first of many fight nights in China as the AFC attempts to break new ground.
And Xu Jei, one of the new Chinese backers, believes the AFC will explode in Asia and take on the world’s best promotions.
“There is much love for martial arts in China, and they love to fight, so for us it is developing the sport throughout the country,” Jei said through a translator.
“And with such a population, it (growth) will naturally happen.
“The Chinese government are supporting our Chinese athletes and sport organisations to be the best.
“Do we think the organisation can be as big as the other big ones out there? Well, yes. With the population and support through China, I can’t see why not and we want to be the best.”
With television partners Shanghai Media Group (SMG), the AFC will reach as estimated 12 million people.
It will also hit 100 million as it streams live across China.
“We are already in the process, and half way through, construction of our first AFC Training and Development Centre in city of Xian and looks to being finished in the next couple months,” Jei said.
“This is what we are most excited about as we are planning to spread these centres throughout China and this is where we will grow the knowledge of the sport and coincide with the AFC shows as we develop and educate.
“We are expecting AFC to be a lifestyle for all of Martial Arts in China.”
AFC chief executive Adam Milankovic said the company had spent five years building the brand in Australia and he was excited to begin the global expansion.
“For us, it’s been a long venture to get where we are,” he said.
“We’ve been fortunate to strike a deal over in China, which has a massive market that is virtually untouched for mixed martial arts.
“It’s just about to explode over there, and with 1.4 billion people, being able to take our brand and the fighters from Australia’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is exciting.
“We will be able to give Australian fighters the opportunity to fight at international level. And as everyone knows, the Chinese are such passionate and competitive people and they’ve got a small base and they believe they can grow the sport and take it to the rest of the world. It going to get out of control.”
Singapore is also on the horizon, but the AFC will ease into China first.
“They want to take it to another level in China,” Milankovic said.
“They see an opportunity and the potential for massive growth in the sport.
“They want to get this first event out of the way but they’re already talking about having a host of shows.
“They want to be as big as ONE FC and the biggest promotions around the world.”
The AFC will continue in Australia, with plans to host an event in the middle of next year.
“We will continue in Australia, definitely, and we’re in the process of planning the next event but everything has come about so quickly,” Milankovic said.
Originally published asAussie MMA set to take on world