UFC reaches deal to air pay-per-view bouts online in China

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced a deal Wednesday with one of China’s largest Web portals to present pay-per-view matches online in the Asian country.

Sohu.com’s first fight will be UFC 109 on Feb. 6 live from Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Terms of the deal were not available.

Sohu.com was the official Web partner for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is the official partner of the NBA, ESPN, sports apparel company adidas and Sports Illustrated in China.

A leading online brand in China, Sohu.com provides services including news, search, e-mail, games and wireless messaging.

UFC’s regular programming debuted in China last summer on Inner Mongolia Television, a network broadcast station available in 60 million households, with the potential to reach 240 million viewers throughout all provinces.

The Sohu.com announcement comes almost two weeks after the UFC’s privately held owner, Las Vegas-based Zuffa, sold a 10 percent stake to Flash Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi, to help accelerate the mixed martial arts organization’s growth into Asian markets.

Zuffa is 81 percent owned by chairman and chief executive Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother, Station Casinos chief executive officer Frank Fertitta III. Zuffa president Dana White controls the remaining 9 percent.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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