• Andrew Collins

How UFC’s Youku Strategy Has Dominated China

UFC is the world’s most explosive sport organization, with fights finishing in dramatic style in a matter of seconds. The nature of the sport is perfect for video content, capturing the best moments in powerful and engaging content.

Many sports brands have an official presence on Youku, China’s version of Youku, but the UFC account is outperforming many of these global brands. Manchester City, the #2 most followed football club online in China, has only 640,000 total views, nothing on UFC’s 9+ million. Bayern Munich, the #1 most engaged football club online in China has only 3,800 subscribers, again far short of UFC’s near 13,000 subscribers.

The key to the UFC’s success on this platform has been creating a strategy that includes engaging global content and bespoke China content.

#1 Anthony Pettis Signature Moves

Anthony Pettis, the former Lightweight Champion, tops the UFC Youku channel with almost 1.2 million views. The video style is unique to the UFC, with the fighter explaining his favorite techniques used inside the Octagon with examples from fight footage. His ‘showtime kick’ against Henderson is one of the most popular moves ever used in the UFC, especially amongst Chinese fans. This series provides educational content to grow understanding of the sport, cultivates fans’ interest and encourages fans to actually participate in MMA training.

#2 The Notorious Top 5 Moments

Conor McGregor, the current Interim Featherweight Champion (a champion means popular in China) is one of the biggest draws for the organization for Chinese fans. The video, that now has over 682,000 views,  presents the fighter’s 5 craziest moments inside and outside the Octagon and was published at the perfect timing during the UFC 189 week. The video continued to polarize fans on his reputation, with many Chinese fans commenting that he is a ‘trash talker’, while others respond saying that ‘he backs up everything he says up’. 

#3 Top 20 UFC Submissions

This video was published during a week without UFC events to support social content and reached over 418,000 views. The video included the best 20 submission finishes of all time. The video worked for two reasons; the classics finishes from all-time greats unites and attracts a new generation of fans. At the same time, it continues to educate existing active fans with the best highlights from before they started following the sport. 

#4 When Bruce Lee Steps Inside the Octagon

One of the best examples of using global content for your Chinese audience is the UFC video “When Bruce Lee Steps Inside the Octagon”. The video was uploaded and promoted on the anniversary of ‘father of MMA’ death and shows Bruce Lee fighting in the Octagon in the popular EA UFC video game, answering fans curiosity as to how he would perform against modern day greats. The video reached over 420,000 views on Youku but was also extremely popular when promoted across all UFC China social channels. The takeaway from this video is to always look for a common point to connect with Chinese fans and Chinese MMA. If this is executed well, then the response can be huge.


#5 Li Jingliang Signature Moves

Let us combine the conclusion we drew from #1 and #4, the Signature Moves video series with a  Chinese fighter. Li Jingliang is arguably the best Chinese UFC fighter at the moment; he had a 85-seconds KO victory in UFC Manila and featured on the UFC Japan card.  This was a locally produced video that presented the fighter’s best techniques, including his boxing skills and takedown defense. The video made his moves known to the Chinese MMA fans and built up hype around his fight in Manila. Having a local star is incredibly important for a sport to grow in China, so hopefully Li Jingliang get back on track when he steps in to the Octagon next.


To sum up, video is one of the best forms of content for the UFC to grow in China. Promoting content on Youku, China’s #1 video platform, will help attract a whole new generation of fans and build on the UFC’s massive potential in this market.

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