It was revealed back in January that Australian Fighting Championship had moved into a joint venture with local businessmen in China and partnered with one of the country’s largest media and cultural conglomerates Shanghai Media Group (SMG) to televise events in the country.
The announcement was a big development for the long-running Melbourne based promotion and it has become evident that momentum for the expansion is showing no signs of slowing.
AFC 18 will take place at the promotion’s own stadium/training centre in Xi’an City — AFC Xi’an Stadium, and according to AFC promoter Adam Milankovic, who recently spoke with Fight News Australia about the company’s new direction, this is just the beginning.
“We have another two being built (stadium/training centres) and they will be completed in three months and we will look to have 30 up in the next 12 months.
“We are the first Australian promotion to seriously take a brand internationally and expand in a big way and branch out throughout the whole of China in every Province. It will give Australian fighters a platform to make a name and fight on an international platform against fighters from all over the world.”
AFC 18 will take place over two nights on April 14 and 15. Both lineups are littered with Australian talent while also featuring local fighters from China and abroad.
Friday night’s event headliner will see Brazil’s Marcelo Tenorio and Pride, UFC and Bellator veteran Rameau Sokoudjou square off. In the co-main event, Melbourne fighter Kaan Ofli will meet Japan’s Munehiro Fujita. Other Australian fighters slated to compete on the first night include John Mitchell and Chris Wase who take on local favorites Wu Chenglin and Xiao Long respectively.
On the following night, New Zealand’s James Bishop and undefeated Queenslander Issac Hardman will clash in the main event with the winner set to take home the AFC lightweight strap. Australia’s Mikey Vaotuua, Peter Davenport and Nikos Trepca are also slated to compete on the night along with an all Aussie WMMA bout between Rhiannon Thompson and former Bellator fighter Arlene Blencowe. Both lineups are expected to be streamed online for Australian based fans.
Still regarded as an untapped market in the world of MMA, China could have big potential for promotions who are able to get a foot in the door there.
“We also have development and learning programs for Chinese fighters as the sport hasn’t taken off here and we are working with the Chinese government on programs to give it a big push as they want to bring China as the new powerhouse of the sport in the world.”
While no date has been announced at this stage, Milankovic is assuring Australian fans that the promotion will return to the country for a show before year’s end.
“We will be back to Australia bigger and better than ever with an announcement soon and will stamp us as biggest promotion in Australia,” Milankovic said.
The announced bouts for AFC 18 can be found below.
Saturday, April 15 Lineup:
- James Bishop vs. Issac Hardman – AFC Lightweight Title
- Jun Zhu vs. Keisuke Iwata
- Yuki Sasaki vs. Glenn Sparv
- Zhao Yefei vs. Mikey Vaotuua
- Harris Norwood vs. Peter Davenport
- Tetsuya Seki vs. Nikos Trepca
- Rhiannon Thompson vs. Arlene Blencowe
Friday, April 14 Lineup:
- Marcelo Tenorio vs. Rameau Sokoudjou
- Munehiro Fujita vs. Kaan Ofli
- Wu Chenglin vs. John Mitchell
- Xiao Long vs. Chris Wase
- Mayo Komori vs. Amin Yaqubi
- Jiang Kefeng vs. Mohammad Ghaedibaradeh
- Zhou Lin vs. Masoumeh Togan