Asia’s integrated resorts say let the battles begin

It seems somehow fitting that the first real blows in the battle between Asia's two major "integrated resort'' destinations are being traded over the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

In one corner we have Macau - undisputed gambling heavyweight champion of the world - and in the other we have Singapore, the eager young challenger ready to stake its claim for the crown.

When this week Macau's City of Dreams resort announced "Asia's first'' MMA cage event, the canny folk at Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) got in with a sucker punch by announcing a lineup of 12 MMA nights with the backing of the massive ESPN STAR Sports broadcasting organization.

"FURY I - Clash of the Titans'' (WEB) will take place at the Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Macau, at the City of Dreams, Friday, May 21, and will feature 10 fights - the highlight of which will see Antony "Wild Thing" Rea and Ramazan "The Punisher" Ramazanov defend their Light Heavyweight MMA World Champion and Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion (K1 Rules) respectively. There have been MMA fights in the region before, organizers say, but never held in a cage.

Tickets for the night are available for between HK$1,880 and HK$1,280 (192 euros and 131 euros).

Over in Singapore, meanwhile, around 60 fights are to be staged from now until October with the full schedule available via www.rwmartialcombat.com.

Organizers are claiming the events will boost Singapore's role as the "ultimate sporting city" and that they have been ratified by two of the world's leading governing bodies in the martial arts scene, the Asian Mixed Martial Arts Federation and the World Martial Arts Federation of Singapore.

While neither destination will publically admit it, the casinos at both places drive their development even though much advertising space has been taken up by the push that they provide "integrated resorts',' that is, resorts which provide everything needed for a holiday in one spot.

And part of that deal means entertainment options for visitors - with both destinations trying to outdo each other by spending millions on establishing circus and other performance-based attractions.

Macau has in the past few years overtaken Las Vegas as the world's gaming capital - thanks to a string of massive casino resorts. And this week plans were also released that developments in the Chinese-administered enclave that were stalled by the world's economic downturn would start up again in the second half of this year.

Down in Singapore, meanwhile, they are now waiting for the opening of Marina Bay Sands also in the second half of the year - that city's second casino resort after RWS opened in January.

So let the games begin.

MS

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