Tomorrow (May 23), Art of War hosts its 12th and biggest yet mixed martial arts show in China. Dubbed “Invincible,” the event takes place in the Beijing Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium (venue information) the 6,000-seat venue in the Olympic Green area that hosted Olympic handball.
The main event features China’s Wu Hao Tian against Japanese fighter Yutaka Kobayashi. VIPs in attendance will include the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
(His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan), who is a major investor in Art of War; Michael Buffer (“Let’s get ready to rumble!”); and several members of Brazilian jiu jitsu’s first family, the Gracies. The fighters come from China, South Korea, Brazil, the United States, Korea, Finland, Uzbekistan, Sweden, Denmark and Russia.
This is the 12th time that Art of War is putting on fights in Beijing, but only the second time the competition is completely government-sanctioned and publicized. The first official show took place about two months ago at Chaoyang Stadium. A dozen pairs of fighters squared off in a boxing-style ring in front of a packed 3,500-seat house. Not only were the fights at Art of War 11 good, but the event was one of the best-produced athletic competitions China has seen outside of the Olympics, complete with drama, hype, smoke and jumbotron instant replay. These guys know how to put on a show.
Mixed martial arts pits fighters against each other in hand-to-hand combat, using whatever fighting styles they want (certain strikes, of course, are off-limits). Also known as MMA, it has surged in popularity in the United States lately–Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, being the most popular organization.
The Art of War crew is looking to hold onto its position as the number one producer of these events in China. The company also operates the Art of War martial arts studio in Beijing, and airs fights via Inner Mongolia satellite TV every Sunday afternoon. It will produce four more competitions in China this year.
Emma Ticketmaster lists the event as sold out, but tickets can still be bought at The Rickshaw sports bar in Beijing (map and info available here).
Keep scrolling for pictures of Art of War 11.