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20 combatants from six nations participate in show in Shanghai

Reporter: Damion Jones 丨 CCTV.com

09-25-2016 16:01 BJT

So mixed martial arts is now one of the world's most popular sports. Its fanbase has added tens of millions of followers since the dawn of the new millennium. Looking to add to MMA's growing support in China, the Dragon Fighting Championship hopes to become the discipline's leading promotion, in the world's most populous nation.

Fans at Shanghai's Baoshan Sports Center would be on the edge of their seats at the inaugural Dragon Fighting Championship. This new promotion is largely patterned after the MMA's top promotion, the UFC, with bouts taking place inside a caged octagon.

Mixed martial arts is a full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, from both standing positions, and on the ground, incorporating techniques from other fighting disciplines. Although MMA is in its infancy in China, local promoters are quick to claim a connection to legendary movie star Bruce Lee.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Jeet Kune Do pioneer popularized the concept of combining combat styles in the West. The icon known as the Dragon famously said the best fighter is not a boxing, karate, or judo man. In 2004, UFC President Dana White referred to Lee as the "Father of Mixed Martial Arts."

"Dragon FC is a local Chinese MMA championship. We held this event because China is a kungfu country -- we have a 5,000 year history of kungfu. MMA has become popular around the world, but we are just beginning. All we want is for Chinese fighters to go onto the international stage to show our culture and history. That's the reason for us to hold this professional MMA championship. We hope that we will develop more and more excellent local fighters," said Cai Jialong, Dragon Fighting Championship founder.

The first Dragon Fighting Championship attracted 20 combatants from six countries on both the men's and women's sides. A number of the participants can boast of previous experience in the UFC, and even though the sport doesn't yet have a big following in China, the competitors believe that will change with more publicity for events like this.

"Actually my dream is to become a professional fighter. As long as my physical condition allows it, I will insist on having MMA matches," said Han Guangmei, mixed martial artist.

"This marks the first step for Dragon FC. On December 24th, we will hold our New Year's Eve Championship at the Oriental Sports Center, which has a capacity of 18-thousand fans. Next year we will have both Class One and Class Two events. We will also promote international championships in Las Vegas, Macao, Singapore, and Japan," Cai said.

So in the short-term, the Dragon Fighting Championship's organizers, participants, and fans are looking three months ahead, while the promotion's long-range goal is to build a top-tier professional MMA structure in China.

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