UFC's sole Asia event called off due to star's injury

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, has cancelled its only event in Asia this year.

UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn, who was scheduled to fight fellow American Ricardo Lamas in the main event on Oct 15's UFC Fight Night Manila, was forced to withdraw from the event after suffering an injury on Wednesday.

Penn said in a statement on the UFC website that was published late on Thursday: "I suffered a rib injury in training and I apologise to the fans in Manila who were expecting to watch me compete."

According to the announcement, other MMA athletes who were slated to compete on the Manila card will be rebooked at upcoming UFC events and receive compensation.

It added that "with its 2016 calendar finalised, UFC officials will discuss future dates for the event".

The website also advised fans who have purchased tickets to the event to "seek refunds at the point of purchase".

The cancellation means that there will not be any UFC events held in Asia this year.

This could put a dampener on the United States-based promotion's efforts to reach out to Asian markets, especially with competitor One Championship rapidly expanding its footprint across the region.

UFC visited Asia five times in 2014 (Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Saitama and twice in Macau), and thrice last year (Manila, Saitama and Seoul).

Singapore-based One Championship has three more events scheduled in the region for the rest of this year, including Nov 11's Defending Honour, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'UFC's sole Asia event called off due to star's injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe