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« | Home | »

About UFC running a show at Saitama Super Arena…

By Zach Arnold | September 5, 2011

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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira let the cat out of the bag last week in at UFC Rio when he said that he was preparing to fight for UFC’s return to Japan in February. Today, Gong Kakutougi says that UFC Asia marketing director Mark Fischer will have a presser to make the announcement. A VTR (video) of Dana White making the announcement will be played.

This news comes on the same day that a Swedish media outlet is claiming that Alistair Overeem went to Las Vegas and signed an exclusive UFC contract that will have him focus 100% on MMA and no more kickboxing.

(Mr. Overeem denies the accuracy of the report.)

Back to the UFC/Japan story. According to GK, the list of Japanese names for the UFC Japan show: Yoshihiro Akiyama, Yushin Okami, Michihiro Omigawa, Takanori Gomi, Hatsu Hioki, Riki Fukuda, Takeya Mizugaki, and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.

MMA Weekly claims that the show will happen on February 26th at… Saitama Super Arena. Gee, who could have ever seen that coming?

Take note of this one item from the MMA Weekly report:

Sources have indicated that Fischer is in contact with several Japanese promoters who have put on shows there before to help smooth the way for a UFC produced card.

While it’s unclear at this time whether or not Zuffa will actually work with a promoter to put on the show or not, Fischer has been in contact with at least a few as this process begins to bear fruit.

Well, look at who would fit that criteria. Guys like Akira Sakata (who promoted the last UFC Japan show at Tokyo Bay NK Hall in the late 90s) or the Sengoku crew which fabulously bombed every time out at SSA.

Unless UFC works out a deal with Total Sports Asia (the promotional company that worked with WWE in 2003), you’re talking about UFC having to deal with someone like Real Entertainment (which is involved in DREAM). Veterans like Miro Mijatovic might be a wild card, but I think it’s extremely doubtful you would see someone like him involved.

In other words, none of this appears to be what I call heavy-hitting on the surface.

Now, more than ever, is the time for you to listen to the interview I did with Jordan Breen a few months ago about this subject. Jordan appropriately labeled UFC running a show in Japan as a ‘vanity show’ and I agreed wholeheartedly with him. There are many reasons as to why it can be called as such, but you can listen to the interview for further details on that.

As for the roster GK says will be used for the Saitama Super Arena show… frankly, it looks no better than what DREAM has been able to come up with and is horribly lackluster. Akiyama is probably the best attraction of the group, with Kid slightly behind him. However, they are not major names any longer in the Japanese landscape. Okami is a no-namer there, Omigawa got crushed by Chad Mendes, Hioki fought Marlon Sandro in front of a couple of thousand fans last NYE weekend, Fukuda & Mizugaki are totally unknown in Japan, and Gomi was never a draw when he headlined Bushido events in the country.

I am not foolish. I remember what happened when WWE had the backing of Fuji TV and Total Sports Asia when they had their initial events at Yokohama Arena. There was widespread panic from the natives in Japan that WWE would soon take over the wrestling business. Despite backing from the biggest TV network there, WWE ended up fizzling. Their business has fizzled so much in Japan that their delayed PPV broadcasts draw very small numbers (this according to Dave Meltzer). UFC does not have a major promotional arm backing them in Japan and WOWOW is such a minor TV player in the grand scheme of things in the country. Unless someone like Nippon TV is willing to back the show in a big way, it’s really hard to see how this show in Japan will be a major success.

Can it be a moderate success? Perhaps 12,000-13,000 fans, which by today’s Japanese landscape would be a success for a one-off show. WWE claimed 19,000 for a RAW taping several years ago there, albeit with lower ticket prices. This is a perspective from just looking at UFC trying to run a show straight up with their cookie-cutter formula and not booking the show in a manner the Japanese are normally accustomed to. The only other potential factor in their favor right now is how strong the yen is compared to the dollar at the moment, so Zuffa may be able to wring out more cash than they normally would. With that said, I wouldn’t go to war at all in Japan with the roster that is being floated for this proposed Japanese event. Guys like Nogueira aren’t going to move the needle all that much any more over there. It would be fool’s gold to try to emulate what Zuffa did with UFC Rio and see if it works in Japan. The answer? It won’t.

UFC does not have a strong television deal in Japan, so to say that they’re going into a damaged market ‘cold’ would be an understatement. They also go into a place infamous for its foreigner tax on fighters (ask PRIDE fighters about that one). There’s going to be a lot of enemies on the ground looking to sabotage this show one way or another and these enemies aren’t cupcakes, either. A lot of dangerous, seedy hanger-ons will try to glom onto the event if they can’t sabotage it. If Zuffa didn’t learn that already from the brief Jamie Pollack era when they took over PRIDE, perhaps they need a refresher course while they’re at it.

A reminder for Zuffa — you know who used to pay for most of those infamous 100,000Y VIP seats at the PRIDE shows? I’ll give you a hint — first letter starts with y and last letter is a. Fill in the blank characters. This isn’t America where a bunch of marks or whales are going to pony up $1,200 for a front row ticket. The kind of people who will pony up that kind of cash in Japan aren’t necessarily going to be the kind of people you want seen at your show, especially by the police.

Our friend Dan Herbertson, last February, wrote about UFC’s interest in running in Japan. Take note of what he said about Akiyama, Gomi, and Kid Yamamoto. Apply what you know about their current status today and compare it to what he said seven months ago.

The one drawing card Zuffa has to use (on the non-Japanese side) is Georges St. Pierre. If he’s willing to fight four months after his bout with Nick Diaz, it would help bolster the show more than anything they will accomplish with their weak native roster. Rampage? That’s a dicier proposition. Alistair and Barnett? They’re nice compliments, but they aren’t ‘aces’ in terms of draws there. Perhaps if you paired them against each other, you would do some business. That would be a hell of an indictment and admission, though, on a vanity show to run a top of a card with that fight.

Bottom line — as I stated months ago, UFC desperately wanted to run a show at Saitama Super Arena in Japan and not all of those reasons had to do with business. This show, more than any other show Zuffa runs, is personal for the people involved. Whether it makes some money or loses some money, UFC wants to be able to run a show in the marketplace that used to house their main competitor on the world stage. If they get SSA, they’ll be delighted. If they settle for Yokohama Arena, I don’t think they’ll shed a tear either (since that’s where the first major UFC Japan show took place).

As for whether or not UFC’s return to Japan will appeal to hardcore Japanese MMA fans, I think the answer is going to be a very mixed one for Zuffa. A lot of the hardcore PRIDE fans are gone, finished, vanished. Much like when WWE put WCW out of business, those WCW fans didn’t transfer over to support to WWE. They simply stayed put on the sidelines or went away for good. UFC better realize that the kind of fan they will attract for thie show is more or less going to be a casual fan mixed in with a few hardcores but not the same mixture of fans that attended the major MMA events for all those years during the Japanese boom period.

The one thing I know for certain is that for the next six months, I’m going to have a lot of heartburn from UFC fans trying to explain to me why their roster of Japanese fighters are going to draw big in the country and how UFC’s standard formula is an automatic draw in Japan. Zuffa running a show in Japan is going to be more or less a joyride for Dana & company to try to stick it as much as possible to the ghost of PRIDE’s past. All about ego and less about business, more pleasure and personal than professional. Whether it draws as well as WWE did at Yokohama Arena on March 1st, 2003 or tanks like WWE did at Yokohama Arena in 1994 when they worked with Tenryu, it won’t matter to UFC in the big picture.

Let the spin begin.

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 44 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

44 Responses to “About UFC running a show at Saitama Super Arena…”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    While I think you are dead on about this being a ‘vanity show’, I think you are underestimating the novelty of a big American entertainment enterprise coming to Japan. I don’t think they can have any sustainable success, but I think they can draw a lot of curious onlookers who want to see the latest western fad, even if it is just a repackaged version of an old Japanese fad, for one event.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      While I think you are dead on about this being a ‘vanity show’, I think you are underestimating the novelty of a big American entertainment enterprise coming to Japan. I don’t think they can have any sustainable success, but I think they can draw a lot of curious onlookers who want to see the latest western fad, even if it is just a repackaged version of an old Japanese fad, for one event.

      We’re closer on the same wavelength than you might think. A lot? That’s a relative term, especially given no (announced) major TV support.

      • Sundog says:

        The first WWE shows did good numbers for the same reason, so their best bet may be a one-and-done spectacle to dance on PRIDE’s grave.

        Bet they wish they could book Akiyama vs Wanderlei now.

        • RST says:

          “Bet they wish they could book Akiyama vs Wanderlei now.”

          ^^

          That would have been a helluva good fight for a Japan show.

          Might have carried a whole card by itself.

  2. Sundog says:

    Actually, Zach – I bet Noguiera/Lesnar could draw. Not draw like PRIDE, but beat expectations. It has a bit of that Sapp vibe and the Inoki connection, though I know Brock wouldn’t do half the promotional work that Sapp did. Also, it would redefine vanity to put your biggest draw on a tape-delay. So…

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Lesnar would be such a wild card for a Japan show. I really don’t see UFC putting him on a Japanese show but rather a domestic one simply for money reasons.

      Brock also hates traveling to Japan.

      As for Brock as a draw in Japan, you would think that he would have demonstrated a great ability to do so and instead all the results from over the years indicates what a stinker of a draw he’s been in Japan. He had the lowest-attended Tokyo Dome gate in the history of New Japan with that 3-way match against Fujita and Chono. His title run in New Japan didn’t produce anywhere close to what they thought it would and he ended up vacating the belt because he didn’t want to show up in Japan. At the time, it was said he didn’t want to lose to Tanahashi and then Tanahashi won the belt in Sapporo after it was vacated.

      Lesnar in Japan has always been a really weird deal.

      • Zack says:

        They’re not going to put Lesnar or GSP on a Japanese show where its going to be tape delayed in the US.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          If they want to run it live, they would have to run the show on 2/27 at 11 AM or Noon for a PPV start time there if they want it to air at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST in the States.

  3. EJ says:

    Just like I said last time Zach, I think you’re reaching hard on with all this talk of the UFC wanting to run a vanity show in Japan because of Pride.

    Pride is dead and has been the idea that Dana or other people there are still thinking about it is silly. The reason they want to do a show in Japan is because it makes sense and continues their plans to expand their business worldwide.

    In the end no one with half a brain is going to think that the UFC is going to do Rio business numbers. But they can introduce a new market to their product and it’ll draw well enough that they’ll do another one the year after.

    This is a longterm focus that the UFC has, they’re not thinking about 1 show it’s always bigger than that. So yeah they’ll stack the card with some foreign fighters and have a good night of fights and do good business. And that’s ok, because the show will be 1 step in a bigger process for them nothing to do with vanity just business.

    • RST says:

      I would also assume (albeit wishfully) that Zuffa/Dana have gotten over any pride jealousy or vendetta at this point.

      That war was won.
      And as far as I can tell the UFC has flourished more then pride ever did since then.

      It would be like murika still being jealous of Germany.

      Although Dana has shown ugly flashes of fanboi-ism, so… could be.

      There could be a bit of gloating to it, but
      I would figure its more to test the water and see if theres any money to be made there.

      That used to be a lucrative market.

      A Canary in the coal mine to gauge the Japanese interest (and have THEY gotten over pride yet?).

      I mean honestly if there is any genuine interest in MMA AS A SPORT in Japan, UFC has got a much superior product then they’ve been gotten in a long time.

      If not, no prob.

      At worst a one off like Abu Dhabi, Ireland, etc.

    • frankp316 says:

      You’re giving White too much credit. The media and fans are constantly throwing the glory days of Pride in his face and it pisses him off. But if he thinks running a show in Japan will stop that, he’s wrong. The other thing is there is no money to be made in the Japanese fight business anymore. Even the UFC doesn’t have a decent TV deal in Japan. Nobody does. The UFC running a show in Japan is throwing money down a black hole. The only reason to run Japan is for White to stroke his own ego. That’s the wrong reason to run any show.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        And I would say you’re giving Dana too much credit by saying that PRIDE isn’t the ultimate sore spot with him. It’s all interconnected with Fedor, too. :)

        • Chromium says:

          And I would say you’re giving Dana too much credit by saying that PRIDE isn’t the ultimate sore spot with him. It’s all interconnected with Fedor, too. :)

          Dana White came from behind to win that war. I don’t see why he’d be bitter about it. Yes he ended up paying a lot of money for it but like you said the UFC aint exactly hurting for cash, and they still have a lot of ex-Pride stars on their roster who have made him a lot of money and he doesn’t treat them any differently for where they came from. Was there personal shit going on there? DFW has a new enemy every few months it seems, so I doubt he’s dwelled on Pride much in that way. Fedor and his management (and his fans) are probably closer to the “ultimate sore spot” for Dana, but not Pride as a whole. He’s already taken a victory lap around Fedor on twitter.

          If there’s more to it though, please do elaborate.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Just like I said last time Zach, I think you’re reaching hard on with all this talk of the UFC wanting to run a vanity show in Japan because of Pride.

      My track record when it comes to promoters’ egos and Japan as their playground is remarkably fabulous. I do not say this to brag but rather to put into perspective why I understand the way crazy minds operate.

      (Trust me, it’s not like it’s a skill that I wish I was born with because it has not made me handsomely rich.)

      Pride is dead and has been the idea that Dana or other people there are still thinking about it is silly. The reason they want to do a show in Japan is because it makes sense and continues their plans to expand their business worldwide.

      He promised a Super Bowl for the Japanese fans in 2007 when they bought out Sakakibara & Ishizaka. Then UFC’s lawyer Jamie Pollack got chased out by the Japanese a few months later. Listen to Dana talk about Fedor in 2011 and the passion he has. Hell, listen to the passion he has about Sakuraba and how promoters work in Japan.

      The issue of PRIDE will always burn brightly in Dana. Japan is his holy grail and when it comes to this subject, he is fan & mark first and businessman second.

      In the end no one with half a brain is going to think that the UFC is going to do Rio business numbers. But they can introduce a new market to their product and it’ll draw well enough that they’ll do another one the year after.

      WWE thought the same thing and it has not happened. If WWE can’t do it, UFC will struggle just as mightily. Remember, WWE had worked with both All Japan & SWS in the 90s on a big scale at the Tokyo Dome. Vince McMahon so desparately wanted to run a Tokyo Dome event in the late 90s. He never did it. If Vince, with all of his bluster, couldn’t pull the trigger on making a big splash in Japan then UFC will find out that it is not as easy as it looks.

      Understand that I am not suggesting UFC can’t pop a medium house for one show. I’m not going to go that far. But Japan is a largely damaged market for so many reasons that I have laid out over the years.

      • Sundog says:

        People who think Dana is over PRIDE are forgetting the tombstone that hangs on the wall of his office. Dana doesn’t “get over things” just because he won. He’s a relentless competitor with a giant chip on his shoulder. It’s his greatest strength, and a glaring vulnerability without someone like Lorenzo to give him balance.

  4. [...] Speaking of the UFC’s Japan event, Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold has a story up explaining why their decision to run there is more personal than professionally [...]

  5. Norm says:

    Is this idea really that much different than the first show Zuffa/UFC ran in Germany? That one had lots of negative press, no TV, public backlash, etc…

    Did they lose money on that show? Probably. Will they lose money on a show in Japan? Sure. Do you think in the grand scheme of things it matters to the boys at ZUFFA? Nope.

    I sense a weird negative personal vibe coming off this article. What gives?

    • edub says:

      Germany didn’t have the history of mma anywhere close to Japan, or the former #1 promotion in the world which Dana and the Fertittas have openly bashed many, many times.

      It is also a wasteland right now for the sport considering the multiple promotions losing money, and the economy shattering earthquake that happened last year.

      • RST says:

        “It is also a wasteland right now…”

        Well thats a good point too.

        Its well known to everyone that MMA in Japan has been in a slump for years, even before the Earthquake.

        But if one were to playfully assume the best intentions instead of the worst, that this isn’t some sort of ego driven revenge conspiracy to foist entertainment upon the innocent people of Japan, then maybe somebody at Zuffa might be thinking that the Japanese might respond and show more interest in a better product.

        Have any of the dream cards over the last few years gotten you excited?

        But I agree that it does seem like a weird time to try it right now.
        And I dont think they’ll have much success, so why even bother.

        Maybe it is just for neener, neener’s sake afterall.

        • edub says:

          “But if one were to playfully assume the best intentions instead of the worst, that this isn’t some sort of ego driven revenge conspiracy to foist entertainment upon the innocent people of Japan, then maybe somebody at Zuffa might be thinking that the Japanese might respond and show more interest in a better product.”

          That is a great point too. I’m inclined to be kind of in the middle on this topic (knowing the history and all factors involved, but not ready to 100% call this a “vanity project”.)

          - Yes a few of them have interested me. Sadly, it always seems the ones that got me excited the most were aired on tape delay. They still have some exciting, world-class competitors in Aoki, Kawajiri, Mousasi, and Hansen (if he were to pick a weight-class).

        • Steve4192 says:

          I haven’t been excited by a DREAM show since their run through the grand prix format for each division and their first attempt at a cage show. Those first 12 events had my interest big-time. Since then … not so much.

    • John says:

      Why does everybody say that the UFC wasn´t on TV, in Germany, the first time? They were. It was broadcasted on DSF, which is like a poor man´s ESPN. Neverthless, it was on TV. They didn´t get a deal for their second event and the only reason they aren´t on PPV in Germany, is because the deal with Pay-TV giant “Premiere” fell through, but since SKY took over Premiere, I don´t know why they won´t work with them. The Bavarian media department is the one that banned the UFC on DSF, since DSF is based out of Bavaria, but that doesn´t mean they can´t get on SKY.

      In any case, I hope it remains just the way it is, because UFC.TV is giving Germany the events for free and that´s better than coughing up $59 like you guys in the States. :D

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      In a sense, it isn’t. And Germany was an abject commercial failure too. I’m not sure what the takeaway is other than that the UFC has enough money to do crap like that, lose tons of money, and move on to do it again.

  6. RST says:

    Another thing that Zuffa might have going for them now for a Japan show is that they’ve finally proven that they know how to stroke a crowds ego with that Rio show.

    About time.

    If they can get their hands on a bunch of decent Japanese fighters and book them against slightly lesser competition to boost their odds for an at least good showing, that might be an appreciated figleaf.

    (Although, what do I know about the mind of the Japanese?! They seemed to enjoy seeing their own heros beaten into bolivia also.)

    Ooh, speaking of which here’s an idea:

    Sak!

    He’s kind of a free agent isn’t he?

    • Vic Mackey says:

      If by “free agent” you mean he is fighting in Dream September 24th, then yes.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “If they can get their hands on a bunch of decent Japanese fighters and book them against slightly lesser competition”

      The problem with that line of thinking is that the gaijin would have to be God-awful to guarantee a good showing for the Japanese fighters. It’s different running a show in Brazil, because the best Brazilian fighters can hang with anyone. With a few exceptions (Okami, Hioki, maybe a couple of others), the Japanese would need to be fed hand-picked low-level gatekeepers or Octagon virgins if you want to ensure a good chance of a feel-good outcome.

  7. Nottheface says:

    I always assumed any UFC event in Japan was part vanity project, part planting the flag to reinforce to the locals that they are now a distance second place at best.

  8. david m says:

    I think this article was dead on Zach. I don’t personally believe Dana White knows how to read, but if he did, I would tell him to read this and to not try Japan, although I am kind of excited to see the UFC get embarrassed.

    • Steve4192 says:

      I don’t think they’ll get embarrassed. They might lose money, but novelty alone should guarantee them a respectable crowd. Filling Saitama might be a stretch, but I think they could fill a 20K venue with ease …. once. Once the novelty wears off, it becomes a much more difficult proposition.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        20,000 would be a major success. In 1994, you could do 20,000 with no television in Japan because the newspapers & magazines had so much clout.

        While the newspapers still have clout, the magazine industry is largely busted and the need for a strong network television deal is so critical.

        The Japanese fight market is badly damaged for so many reasons. This is not an indictment on Zuffa — remember, as I wrote last week about One FC and Asian MMA, Japan has placed itself in a position where it is really hard to make a big go of it.

  9. Bryan says:

    Interesting read here Zach, thanks. Quick question though. Let’s say a show is formalized and does take place, what kind of production do you happen to think Zuffa would go with? Their traditional shows they put on or would they be more apt to pull out all the stops like DSE/FEG did for their shows?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      What you see is what you get with the UFC. Dana did not like the production values of PRIDE, especially the ramp.

      • Bryan says:

        I figured as such. That being said, do you think it make much of a difference to the Japanese fans, since by and large they are used to the elaborate productions that come from the pro wrestling world or would they just move on from the old days?

        • Zach Arnold says:

          I think much in how WWE thinks, UFC will basically feel that they should bring a “UFC” show to Japan and that the extent of their catering to the Japanese marketplace is booking the guys they have on their roster. That’s about it.

          The biggest thing I will stress is that, yes, they may be able to get away with it OK for one show, but if they have any desire for long-term planning it won’t work. Then again, when you are running largely a vanity show in this damaged market, it doesn’t really matter how much or how (little) you lose money. It’s all about running the show to flip the bird.

  10. Chromium says:

    Zach, I think you are overstating things about Japan, but I guess we’ll see. If the UFC wants to break back into the Japanese market and eventually maybe even revive the MMA fad there, it helps to maintain a visible presence. They’ve gotten a few truncated tape-delayed shows as one-hour specials on TV Tokyo, which may not sound like much but I think there could be televised interest beyond just WOWOW.

    There’s honestly no need to do a show in Germany (let alone two now) where the situation is even worse, but they want to establish a presence there and hopefully get the sport more accepted. Yes, they attracted fans from neighboring countries, but they could have done that in a number of places that didn’t have a government and a media that was openly hostile towards MMA.

    But as for Japan, I think in the long term, what might give the UFC an opening in Japan would be if they produce a Japanese World Champion some day. This is not completely far-fetched with the addition of a Flyweight division. A Japanese World Champion is someone who could go on talk shows and variety shows and pimp the UFC product for them as well as anyone. It could also easily be the key to a decent TV deal. Until such time as that might occur, they still need to remind people over there that they exist. Maybe you’re right and it’s a vanity show, but there are far worse places to do a vanity show.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Zach, I think you are overstating things about Japan, but I guess we’ll see.

      I’m actually being very generous here in my assessment of what Zuffa could draw with this vanity show. If I wanted to speak from my heart instead of my head, I could say a lot worse.

      If the UFC wants to break back into the Japanese market and eventually maybe even revive the MMA fad there, it helps to maintain a visible presence.

      They’re not going to revive MMA there. They aren’t a Japanese company. If MMA does make a come back there, it will be with a Japanese organization and the Japanese fans will support it because of Japanese talent and the feeling that they are the best in the world.

      They’ve gotten a few truncated tape-delayed shows as one-hour specials on TV Tokyo, which may not sound like much but I think there could be televised interest beyond just WOWOW.

      TV Tokyo means nothing. That is a pay-for-play network with no reach outside the Kanto region. Lots of wrestling promotions bought time a few years ago on the network and it went nowhere. UFC had a show on TV Tokyo (the 3/31 Charlotte event where Roy Nelson knocked out Stefan Struve) on a week delay and it meant nothing.

      But as for Japan, I think in the long term, what might give the UFC an opening in Japan would be if they produce a Japanese World Champion some day.

      And they have no one on their roster who fills that void.

      Remember, the golden rule on drawing with a Japanese star is that the star must have some success in Japan first, then go overseas and win gold, then come back home and become a big star in Japan. Yushin Okami, if he had pulled off the upset over Anderson, still would have meant zero to UFC drawing in Japan. If Yoshihiro Akiyama had actually been successful in UFC and came back to Japan with a belt, perhaps we would be talking about a different story.

      For as complex as the politics are with the Japanese, there are a few simple principles that never bend in that marketplace that one must be disciplined in following.

      Maybe you’re right and it’s a vanity show, but there are far worse places to do a vanity show.

      The danger is no longer about money for UFC. They got lots of it to burn. The danger is who will cause problems for them in Japan, who might show up, who might get threatened, and if the show does not draw as well as they think it does. Those are the dangers. As for the actual joy ride itself, as long as it doesn’t lose substantial cash then Dana won’t care what happens.

      • nottheface says:

        Zach, as I said above, I think it’s partly a victory lap for Zuffa and partly a planting of the flag, or a better analogy might be the salting of the earth. I have a couple of Japanese friends who helped introduce me into a thing called “Pride Fighting” which all the kids in Osaka were into. And I think your right in the analysis that the Japanese, as well as Americans, don’t like things they aren’t the best at. So part of the show is to remind the Japanese that they don’t mean squat anymore and kill any potential future Japanese promotions – If the UFC can’t have Japan no one will.

        • Chromium says:

          Dude everything else aside, I don’t think Zuffa has any vested interest in “salting the earth.” Quite the opposite as far as their talent pool goes. If more Japanese fighters become successful in the UFC if anything it will encourage them to keep fighting.

        • Chromium says:

          Running a victory lap? Maybe I’ll give you that, but I don’t think DFW has a big grudge here or anything. I think they are hoping it eventually leads to bigger and better things.

          As for not having a World Champion, they don’t have one _today_, but if they could get one at Flyweight, or if Hioki ascended at Featherweight, I think they might be able to do something with that, prior success or not. It might depend on the personal charisma of the guy but still, they could _then_ schedule a Japan show and pimp the shit out of that guy. If they get a Japanese world champion on the variety show circuit they could still build a star if he’ll be defending said title in his home country (again, other aspects of marketability would matter of course).

  11. Zach Arnold says:

    Chromium said:

    Dude everything else aside, I don’t think Zuffa has any vested interest in “salting the earth.” Quite the opposite as far as their talent pool goes. If more Japanese fighters become successful in the UFC if anything it will encourage them to keep fighting.

    And that’s the great irony in how Dana & Joe Silva book the Japanese fighters when they come into UFC to start. More often than not, they get thrown in against the standard American wrestlers and lose badly, which thereby diminishes their perceived (but largely non-existent) value back home.

    Running a victory lap? Maybe I’ll give you that, but I don’t think DFW has a big grudge here or anything. I think they are hoping it eventually leads to bigger and better things.

    Oh, I think a healthy part of Dana’s psychology in running this show is that he viewed the way Japanese MMA was booked & produced as being a disgrace and that he wants to show the Japanese fans, in his mind, the way an MMA show should truly be booked & produced. Go back and read what he said to Mauro about the way Sakuraba was booked & handled. It’s a very telling comment.

    As for not having a World Champion, they don’t have one _today_, but if they could get one at Flyweight, or if Hioki ascended at Featherweight, I think they might be able to do something with that, prior success or not. It might depend on the personal charisma of the guy but still, they could _then_ schedule a Japan show and pimp the shit out of that guy. If they get a Japanese world champion on the variety show circuit they could still build a star if he’ll be defending said title in his home country (again, other aspects of marketability would matter of course).

    Again, you’re forgetting the time-tested principle for making a Japanese star. They must become a star first in a native promotion, then go overseas to ‘conquer’ the foreign enemy, and then come back and fight on Japanese soil again. UFC had two cracks at this — Akiyama and Kid. Kid lost and won’t be back as a world champion. Akiyama has lost to Leben and Belfort and will not be the champion at 170.

    Down the road, you can’t say that because someone is Japanese that if they win a belt in UFC that they automatically become a star back home. It doesn’t work that way in Japan. You must become a star there first of some significance and then ‘conquer’ on the world stage. This same principle applies to other athletes in Japan as well – Ichiro, Matsui, Matsuzaka, so on and so forth.

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