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Friday, December 06, 2013

No Holds Barred: Joel Resnick on RUFF and MMA in China in 2014 and Beyond 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Joel Resnick, the CEO of RUFF (Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation).

The only MMA organization sanctioned to hold events in mainland China, RUFF just held their 11th show on November 30, at the Hongkou Indoor Stadium in Shanghai. The much-talked about main event pitted two undefeated fighters against one another, Bekbulat Magomedov of Russia and Wang Guan of China. After three rounds, Magomedov won by unanimous decision, but this was only the second time in his 12 victories that Magomedov went the distance and didn't win by submission or knockout.

We spoke with Joel Resnick about RUFF 11 and the plans of RUFF by Skype Thursday (Wednesday New York time).

Asked where RUFF stands in comparison to other MMA organizations around the world, he replied, "RUFF stands on their own. That's where we stand. We don't pay attention to too many other organizations. Really, we're the only ones in China that are government-sanctioned that are actually holding MMA events as sporting events. Not as a promotional event, not as a cultural event, but as a sporting event."

He added, "We have no plans to go outside of China. We have 1.4 billion people to educate here about MMA."

He believes that since RUFF first started in 2011, the top Chinese fighters have risen to "a global level." He also said that with their system of crowning champions and now by bringing in fighters from outside China, like Magomedov, they do not have "paper champions."

As for next year, he said, "For 2014, we're going to keep doing what we're doing. We're going to bring in more foreigners to challenge our champions." He said to expect RUFF's fighters to get more exposure through increased sponsorships and appearances on television shows.

"We always said from day one, how we're going to grow the company is by growing the fighters. And that's what we're going to continue to do."

He also did not exactly sound worried by the attempted entrance into China by non-Chinese MMA companies, including UFC. "We have all the good fighters under contract with us, and everybody knows that," he said. Regarding the UFC's upcoming reality TV show in China, "We haven't heard too much about it here."

We also discussed RUFF's growing number of viewers, plans to add English-language commentary to their upcoming shows, how fighting is readily accepted in China since martial arts are such an important part of Chinese culture, the coverage of RUFF in the Chinese media, and much more.

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