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Chinese pioneer predicts slow growth

By Sun Xiaochen  (China Daily)

16:43, November 16, 2012

China's first ultimate fighter doesn't expect his sport to hit the mainstream at home any time soon.

"It's not enough just with tonight's fights," Zhang Tiequan said after losing to Jon Tuck during the UFC's nine-fight Macao debut on Saturday.

"It still needs a couple of years, three to five, to gain more exposure and acceptance for MMA to develop in China. Whatever, the Macao event is still a giant step and gives a push for its rise."

The 34-year-old Zhang, who is 2-4 since joining the UFC in 2010, saw an opportunity with more than 8,000 home fans cheering him in the Cotai Arena of the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel. UFC is usually staged in the United States.

But he failed to showcase his quick, ferocious style, conceding punches while grappling on the mat, and lost a three-round decision.

Zhang, who mixes sanshou, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, said he felt no additional pressure fighting at home.

"A lot of my friends came to watch my show tonight, which was supposed to provide me more energy," said the Inner Mongolia native. "But I just chose the wrong strategy. It's not that I was nervous."

Tuck, who improved to 7-0, did a better job scouting than Zhang.

"I trained for the old TQ (Tiequan), there was a new TQ tonight. He used to be aggressive, but he changed his stance. I knew he would have an awesome fight and I didn't expect anything less," Tuck said.

He also said he was inspired to fight in Bruce Lee's home country.

"I felt China is one of the birthplaces for martial arts and, of course, Bruce Lee is one of my heroes," said Tuck, whose favorite Lee film is Enter the Dragon.

"It's an honor and special for me to fight here. I am able to showcase my skill-set, not only as a fighter, who only fights, but as a person. I feel like a martial artist as well. This feeling will last forever for me and my family."

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