Fighters Only Magazine announced today that Michael Bisping (18-2), fresh off a career-salvaging performance against Denis Kang, will be Wanderlei Silva's (32-10-1) first middleweight opponent. The fight will be the main event at UFC 110 which will mark the promotion's Down Under debut. UFC 110 is set for Sydney's Acer Arena on Sunday, February 21st, which nearly aligns with the usual Saturday time slot in North America.
The main event should be a thrilling stand-up war as neither has shown a real propensity for takedowns or ground fighting in the past. Wanderlei will have a significant power advantage, but Bisping seems to have learned from his cautious approach against Dan Henderson and should come out guns blazing.
As well as introducing their product to millions of Aussies, this event on the other side of the Pacific is widely seen as an attempt by the UFC to begin muscling their way back into the lucrative Japanese MMA market. At UFC 110, Japanese fans, who are very near to Syney's timezone, will be able to enjoy live, prime-time, UFC action for the first time in recent years. Furthermore, Wanderlei Silva is a major star in The Land Of The Rising Sun-- so any card he headlines in the region is sure to be a hit. Mirko "Cro Cop," another major draw in Japan, is also rumoured to be appearing.
It was originally circulated in the MMA rumour mill that Wanderlei's opponent for UFC 110 would be Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1), who is adored by millions in both Japan and South Korea, but the UFC has apparently decided that fight is not as marketable as Silva vs. Bisping, especially in the U.S. No word yet on whether Akiyama will remain on the card against another opponent.
Australia very much fits the profile of the other markets the Zuffa-owned UFC has entered thus far (the U.K., Ireland, Germany and Canada), but the next couple of years promise to hold several other firsts for the UFC with events rumoured to be taking place in such far-flung locales as France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico City, Hong Kong, China (mainland), and Dubai. The UFC is also rumoured to be planning a summer, 2010 show at Fenway Park in President Dana White's hometown of Boston.