MMA: UFC cancels Asia event in Manila

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

BJ Penn, who was scheduled to fight Ricardo Lamas at the main event on Oct 15's UFC Fight Night Manila, was forced to withdraw from the event due to an injury on Wednesday (Oct 5).

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, I hope to be back in the Octagon soon."

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 events to "seek refunds at the point of purchase".

The cancellation means that there will not be any UFC events held in Asia this year, which could put a dampener on the promotion's efforts to reach out to Asian markets, especially when competitor One Championship is rapidly expanding its footprints across Asia.

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

One Championship has four more events scheduled for the rest of this year, including the Nov 11 event, dubbed Defending Honour, held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.