For quite awhile the UFC had targeted the Philippines for their first international TUF season until they found out first hand just how hot the Brazil market was. And it’s not hard to see why considering the massive turnouts for public appearances by Chuck Liddell, Brandon Vera, Georges St. Pierre and now BJ Penn.

As you can see from the photograph above taken by BE’s Anton Tabuena, Penn was absolutely mobbed for autographs during an open workout on his UFC press tour at the SM Mall of Asia earlier today. In his weekly blog for the Bleacher Report, Penn expressed just how shocked he was by the turnout.

The climax of this tour so far has been today’s open workout at the Mall of Asia. They had me go and workout for the fans, and, man, the Filipino fans are great. I don’t know exactly how many people came out to see me hit pads and work out, but it was a huge mob, several thousands, I couldn’t believe it.

After the workout, I took to the crowd and tried to shake everyone’s hand, give autographs and take pictures, there were too many people to greet everyone, but I hung around as long as I could. It was an honor to represent the UFC out here and give the fans a good show.

The UFC’s rapid growth cooled off a little bit here in North America this past year, but clearly the UFC craze is just getting starting in other places around the world like Brazil and the Philippines.

Check out more of Anton’s pics from the open workout over at BE.