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Five questions to look at heading into the UFC Japan 2012 event

By Zach Arnold | February 19, 2012

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This is such an oddly intriguing show for a lot of reasons, both in-and-out of the cage. There’s so many variables at play here. I could bring up a million different angles to analyze but we’ll take five basic storylines heading into the event here and look at how everything is playing out right now.

On Sunday, I saw the first cable/satellite barker ad for the PPV event. The narrator’s voice is strangely subdued and what’s not mentioned is that the telecast will apparently be four hours long. Your guess is as good as mine.

1. Will the crowd for this show represent a floor or a ceiling for UFC & Dentsu?

I am of two thoughts here.

First, the positive take and one that UFC argues. They run a good show, they get a few backers, and then through repetition hope that some rich people who aren’t yakuza buy into what they are doing.

Second, the negative take and more realistic viewpoint. The Japanese MMA industry on a mainstream level is dead. There are no major Japanese stars being created now. Kid Yamamoto, Gomi, and the rest are a dying breed. Once they are gone, the replacements have nowhere near the same name value. That’s the great irony about UFC’s predicament here. They want to build something up in Japan but the local promoters that they weren’t friendly with basically torched the business to the ground.

If Dentsu is able to get UFC onto television, perhaps they have a shot — albeit a small shot. The UFC product is not tailored for Japanese cultural wants or needs. There aren’t major Japanese players right now in the divisions sans Hatsu Hioki and Hioki’s not a major star in his home country. The plan was to broker some time on TV Tokyo, the smallest of the over-the-air networks in Japan, and then try to parlay that onto a bigger network like Tokyo Broadcasting System or Fuji TV. The major problem with that strategy is that UFC is not a Japanese company and the TV suits have no desire to touch MMA right now because the police are on the warpath against the gangs. We know the history of black money in the Japanese fight game. It resembles Mexico in many regards.

2. Will this be a WWE/non-traditional audience for UFC Japan or will it draw traditional MMA fans?

When WWE drew 13,000 at Yokohama Arena a decade ago, the Japanese promotions freaked out. Was Vince going to steal their fans? The answer ended up being a fat ‘no.’ The fans the WWE shows in Japan attract are not the traditional wrestling fans. They’re concert-goers. They aren’t the bread-and-butter fans that used to read the weekly magazines or watch Samurai TV/GAORA to watch New Japan, NOAH, All Japan.

If UFC is to be successful long-term in Japan, they need to do something that WWE utterly failed to do when they bought the assets to WCW — win over the old MMA fans. UFC needs to win over the PRIDE fans and get them into the fold. This belief that the PRIDE fans just went away and never will come back is a misguided train of thought. Those PRIDE fans are on the sidelines. K-1 couldn’t win them over with their substandard product. UFC has the money & resources to make it work… if they want to and don’t use a Vince-like “you’re going to like what I want you to like” mentality.

3. UFC Japanese guys vs. ‘normal’ Japanese fighters who are draws

Throughout UFC’s history, both under SEG & Zuffa, there’s been a strange dichotomy in regards to the kinds of Japanese fighters UFC attracts & thinks are the right fit versus actually booking Japanese fighters that are the major draws.

Go back to when UFC got Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. Kohsaka was a middle-of-the-pack draw in RINGS. Kiyoshi Tamura & Akira Maeda were the aces, with Yoshihisa Yamamoto (of all people) just underneath. Kohsaka became a somebody in the States, then went back to Japan and promptly had a 30-minute draw with Tamura at Tokyo Bay NK Hall. After that fight, his big notch was Fedor and the stoppage. Fedor, of course, took care of business in the rematch.

Kaoru Uno still, to this day, is viewed by UFC as this major legend in Japan. There’s a difference between being a pioneer and being a legend. Uno was never a big draw in Japan but he was always treated with a lot more respect by foreign promoters than native ones on a major scale.

Yushin Okami is a no-namer back home. Nobody knows about him except when he occasionally hangs out with guys like Shinsuke Nakamura from New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He’s not considered a big star at all. He has the record to show the folks back home that he’s the real deal but since he didn’t become a star in Japan first, they don’t care. This point, ultimately, is what makes or breaks UFC Japanese fighters versus traditional Japanese draws.

Kid Yamamoto is by far the biggest Japanese draw UFC has ever booked and he’s been in a royal slump. He’s fighting to keep his career alive now. He also got damaged with the marijuana party story in Shukan Gendai, an outfit that we’ve seen be very friendly to the interests of K-1 in the past.

Yoshihiro Akiyama is the best shot they have of maintaining a high-level name as a star but they put him into a very difficult spot against Jake Shields. If Shields wins but does so in boring fashion, this will be a crowd-killer.

4. How will Japanese promoters react in the aftermath of the first show?

When I said the over/under number for the first UFC Japan show would be 10,000, I used that as a benchmark because that’s a good determination as to what the mindset will be of the locals in regards to whether or not they start panicking.

If UFC pulls in over 12,000, I guarantee you the panic will be starting. If Dentsu even papers the crowd and gets 15,000, the pressure cooker will be boiling. If the show draws in the 8,000-9,000 range as Shu Hirata says it has so far… the locals will be laughing.

You can spin 9,000 as a Ryogoku Kokugikan-level number & as a half-house at Budokan or Yokohama Arena. Remember, Japan is more about image than it is about substance when it comes to making impressions in the fight game.

You might look at the difference of a few thousand people and go, “What’s the big deal?” Again, politics is everything over there. Nikkan Sports is backing the show, so that media outlet will be secure. Yahoo Japan will give UFC a fair shake as well. However, the rest of the major media outlets are the wild card. Dentsu has plenty of sway but there will be several major media outlets that will either ignore the UFC show or go out of their way to bury Dana White hard like they did when he was portrayed as the evil gaijin corporate raider after the PRIDE sale.

A nice, big number here at UFC Japan shuts a lot of people up. A solid number changes nothing. A low number gives a chance for schadenfreude and spin.

5. With no more television support, is MMA sustainable on a large scale in the country?

It’s not. This is why Dentsu backing UFC is so critical. A multi-year deal to promote shows in the country means nothing unless Dentsu, which has plenty of juice, can convince sponsors to back them to get the events on TV. If an outlet like TV Tokyo, which historically has plenty of pay-to-play examples for buying programming time, is taking a pass on the UFC… that spells trouble. WOWOW doesn’t cut it. You need a major broadcast TV network backing you or else you are going nowhere on a big scale in Japan.

What makes the situation much more difficult for UFC long term in Japan is that there are no new major players entering the local Japanese fight scene. All the cockroaches that damaged the scene are still around, making promises left and right that they’ll make a comeback. The scene dramatically needs fresh blood in order to flush out the bad guys and right now that’s not happening. Until the current cast of characters is eliminated, the TV networks will have plenty of incentive to not give an MMA promotion a major television deal because of political & police pressure to not ‘reward’ the major gangs who often are heavily involved in the sport.

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 45 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

45 Responses to “Five questions to look at heading into the UFC Japan 2012 event”

  1. RST says:

    It seems to me that if Japan saw/had any interest in UFC product, they could have done it already.

    It seems to me that UFC’s best bet in Japan would be to get a TV deal, and that could have been sussed out without even going to Japan.

    I was under the impression that it was the TV deal, not PPV or gate that was holding up PRIDE?

    Here’s an Idea:

    Do what PRIDE did (but not in the worst way) a UFC/…

    Inoki, K1, Pancrase, something locally familiar.

    That might scootch them in towards acceptance.

    Then pitt jackson against everybody.
    ;)

    • Chromium says:

      I really think it would be a mistake for the UFC to go overboard tailoring their product to the local audience beyond the people they use on the card and maybe a few nods to Japan’s historical contributions to MMA (get Sakuraba some tickets at ringside, maybe up the glitz just a little bit on entrances).

      And co-promotion is out of the question, really, for a number of reasons.

      I have to wonder though, was there a recent period in boxing when they didn’t have any international Champions or stars? If so, how did that work itself out?

      If Yasuhiro Urushitani became the Flyweight Champion, I think the UFC could get a legit television deal because they’ll have a Japanese fighter who is the baddest man on the planet at his weight class. Yes they would need a marketing machine to help with that but that’s where they do things the Japanese way with Dentsu’s help and have the guy go on variety shows and get himself noticed.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        I really think it would be a mistake for the UFC to go overboard tailoring their product to the local audience beyond the people they use on the card and maybe a few nods to Japan’s historical contributions to MMA (get Sakuraba some tickets at ringside, maybe up the glitz just a little bit on entrances).

        They could have easily celebrated PRIDE by bringing in a bunch of their current guys who are former PRIDE fighters and had a big ceremony to celebrate the country’s history. They could have also brought in guys like Mark Coleman & Don Frye to say hi to the fans.

        I’m not saying they should have, but it would have been a really nice touch.

        If Yasuhiro Urushitani became the Flyweight Champion, I think the UFC could get a legit television deal because they’ll have a Japanese fighter who is the baddest man on the planet at his weight class.

        Not a chance. If Kid Yamamoto & Akiyama can’t help them get on TV, a flyweight that few people in Japan know about on a mass scale is not going to get them a TV deal.

        Again, the cardinal rule in Japan — 1) you must become a big star first at home before you can go overseas for the ‘invasion’ or 2) you must become a big star at home and then defend home turf against the ‘invaders.’

        • Chromium says:

          I really, really have to disagree on this cardinal rule. It’s no longer a route any native Japanese can take anyway.

          However, if the UFC got on network television, a bigger one than TV Tokyo, and the UFC produced a Japanese Flyweight version of GSP, with half his fights taking place in Japan, I still think that could get traction. I don’t see why a person like that couldn’t be promoted through all those popular variety show and other media blitzes if they had the right talent agency pushing them. Maybe it would be easier with a Heavyweight but I still think it’s entirely possible with a world champion at any weight. A world champion is still hugely credible and I just feel like with the right exposure and some degree of charisma that can translate into Japanese pride (no pun intended) and Japanese fans.

          Then again even that would require a near perfect storm… I guess more realistically we’ll have to see if Japan has enough new wave UFC fans to make once-a-year PPVs viable and get a few shows a year on TV Tokyo.

        • AfroSamurai says:

          You sir are asking for something that will never happen though.

          If they became a big star at home and are winning, with everybodys exclusive contracts they won’t be able to go to the UFC after becoming a big star. Japan nor does any other promotion like to create a big star only to have them go to the UFC

      • RST says:

        “If Yasuhiro Urushitani became the Flyweight Champion,…”

        If they really wanted to be slick, and it wouldn’t hurt, they got ran around like children bargaining with PRIDE… Maybe they should try the lightweights in Japan first. Much better chance for Japanese competitors and champs at the lighter weights. SF is light weight now. SF does not have the stigma (?) in Japan that UFC has.

        • Chromium says:

          Strikeforce going to Japan would almost be like All-Japan Pro-Wrestling coming to the U.S.: no one would care except the most hardcore of hardcore nerds like us.

          Also Strikeforce doesn’t go below LW unless you count women, has no Japanese LWs on their roster, in fact has only one male Japanese fighter period, and even if they were to acquire some, the best Japanese fighters are at LW and lower.

          Strikeforce running a Japan show would be a huge exercise in wasting money.

  2. Chromium says:

    I’m not sure why the locals would be panicking if the UFC succeeds. Best case scenario for the UFC is that they would come to Japan twice a year, once for a live PPV and once for a Fuel TV card or something. If anything it gives local fighters a goal to strive for. As of now, there are no more local competitors to the UFC. Dream is hanging on by a thread. Promotions like Deep, Pancrase, and Shooto have never risen above their grass roots. The only promotion I could see being at all concerned by the UFC being successful in Japan is OneFC, in part because they’re targeting people in SE Asia who aren’t as familiar with MMA but love their local stars, and may be under the misinformed impression that OneFC has a world class roster or something.

    Anyway, could you maybe elaborate a little on that?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I’m not sure why the locals would be panicking if the UFC succeeds. Best case scenario for the UFC is that they would come to Japan twice a year, once for a live PPV and once for a Fuel TV card or something. If anything it gives local fighters a goal to strive for. As of now, there are no more local competitors to the UFC.

      The image and perception that an outsider like the UFC can come to Japanese turf and draw better than they can is devastating for the psyche of said promoters. It creates an image to the local fans that if a gaijin can do better than you, then you are hopeless.

      New Japan understood this psychology well when WWE first started w/ Total Sports Asia in ‘03.

      • Steve4192 says:

        But there is no MMA equivalent to New Japan these days.

        All of the major Japanese players are out of business. All that is left is little grass roots promotions that don’t have TV deals. I seriously doubt the guys who run DEEP are sweating the UFC’s arrival.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          Ishii, Kawamata, Sakakibara, all those guys are lurking. Now, I hope they fall flat on their face but the reality is that the cockroaches aren’t dead.

          New Japan is the one player right now that is concerned about how UFC does here. There is no secret on this. This is why this week will be fascinating to see which outlets cover UFC fairly and which ones go in the tank for the local team.

        • Steve4192 says:

          “Ishii, Kawamata, Sakakibara, all those guys are lurking”

          They might be lurking, but they are not currently in the business. Ishii is the only one of those three who has been relevant in the last five years, and he appears to have lost the battle to control K-1. ‘Mr Kim’ appears to be the man in control of K-1 these days.

          Speaking of which, do you have any comments on Bas Boon’s recent comments in Fighter’s Only?

          http://www.fightersonlymag.com/content/news/15644-golden-glory-declares-war-on-k-1

        • Dave says:

          It’s not that I dislike Fighters Only but lololololol, “sources told us that Barbizon was a yakuza front company.”

          Oh dear.

          Also, those weren’t comments he gave to them, that is a press release from Bas Boon attempting to sway public opinion and support towards them.

          Seeing as though there has been some shifts in the K-1 URLs over the past week (K-1.co.jp redirects to fika-world.com and the K-1 site is now at feg-jp.com) and that Golden Glory had been bragging about buying K-1 since last May, everything gets a grain of salt.

      • Jason Harris says:

        It also stands to reason that as hard as we try to cram them together, there are some people who won’t in fact equate MMA fights with pro wrestling. Just like in the US that the majority of MMA fans aren’t big pro wrestling marks, perhaps there’s an audience in Japan that is into MMA but never was massively into pro wrestling.

        Just a thought.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          That’s the logic Kokuho said in his infamous Sherdog interview when he criticized DREAM matchmaking and praised his as more ’scientific.’

          It got him gates of 2,000 or less at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Sengoku was an utter disaster, even if the image was that their roster was way better than DREAM’s.

  3. RST says:

    “If UFC is to be successful long-term in Japan,…”

    Lets take it a step at a time…

    “UFC needs to win over the PRIDE fans…”

    Uh… Lets try and keep our goals realistic. That’s not going to happen. Not here, and not in Japan. If the UFC is lucky they’ll scare up some new fans. Like the TUF noobs, like Japanese guys who listen to rap music.

    Basketball, basketball… ;)

    • RST says:

      Yushin Okami is a no-namer back home.

      Yes.

      But I think the point that the UFC promoters are thinking, and that I would think, is he has a Japanese name.

      As silly and shallow and possibly “racist” as that sounds, if a Japanese wrestling promotion came through your town, and Bud Smith was on the card, you might go out of your way to check it out.

      Just to see if Bud Smith might make all black people proud.

      • RST says:

        “Yoshihiro Akiyama is the best shot they have of maintaining a high-level name as a star but they put him into a very difficult spot against Jake Shields.”

        Oooh, thats a tough one.

        UFC knows how to massage a foreign ego. The only tough fight @ UFC braz was BigNog/Shaub. Maybe that nitwit silva is counting on the residual Japanese hate for Ak?

        “The scene dramatically needs fresh blood…”

        That might be the deal Boss. That just might be the deal.

  4. Jason Harris says:

    UFC is doing exactly what I thought they should do in Japan.

    This site has argued over and over again that they should emulate K-1 and DREAM and do a PRIDE nostalgia show and just hope that equates to PRIDE numbers (even though it’s not working for DREAM) and that the extra UFC money and random old PRIDE names would really make the difference.

    UFC is saying, here we are, we are UFC, we sell this product around the world, and we’re not changing it for Japan any more than featuring a few more local fighters on our roster.

    Good for them. I really have never understood the logic of “Do what’s failing for DREAM but add 1 or 2 bigger names that DREAM can’t afford, that’ll work!!!” logic that has been spewed out by this site. UFC has it’s own product…without pro wrestlers or random guys who are making their big league debut vs. established stars. There is already a fanbase of some size for that in Japan….perhaps big enough for this arena, perhaps not.

    But the “UFC needs to emulate both failed Japanese MMA promoters and the currently failing Japanese MMA promoters to be successful in Japan” logic has never made any sense to me. PRIDE failed, let’s argue that it was because of a Yakuza scandal or whatever else….emulating PRIDE like K-1 and DREAM have tried to do (and are going bankrupt doing) is not a recipe for success.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      This site has argued over and over again that they should emulate K-1 and DREAM and do a PRIDE nostalgia show and just hope that equates to PRIDE numbers (even though it’s not working for DREAM) and that the extra UFC money and random old PRIDE names would really make the difference.

      I’ve long said that K-1’s attempt and DREAM’s attempt at trying to do a PRIDE-style product was terrible. They did it all wrong. They tried to split the baby by being ’scientific’ part of the time and ‘Hulk tournament’ the rest. The end result was what you would expect, especially when the TV networks didn’t want anything to do in terms of a heavy financial investment in the current management.

      The argument I made was UFC should commemorate PRIDE’s history, thus showing a sense of shame & sorrow about what’s happened and how UFC would be there to cheer up the natives who are facing a down period. This would have been great currency to repair any ill feelings towards Dana, who rightfully or wrongly has an image in media circles over there the same way Mitt Romney’s been criticized over Bain Capital. (“The Corporate Raider.”)

      UFC is saying, here we are, we are UFC, we sell this product around the world, and we’re not changing it for Japan any more than featuring a few more local fighters on our roster.

      That’s fine — and they are very fortunate Dentsu, a big player, is willing to back them up on it. But that doesn’t make it the smartest approach nor does it make it one that is more palatable to get onto broadcast TV with.

      45 Huddle said it best — UFC’s perspective is that this deal is no risk, so UFC or nothing, it doesn’t matter to them because they can just move on. However, UFC adding a 4th hour to the PPV time frame at the last minute indicates that, yeah, they kind of do care about this show more than others.

      Good for them. I really have never understood the logic of “Do what’s failing for DREAM but add 1 or 2 bigger names that DREAM can’t afford, that’ll work!!!” logic that has been spewed out by this site.

      ‘Spewed?’ You spew venom. I am not spewing venom. If anything, I would appreciate them being successful using the ways of the Japanese to flush out the bad guys who are still around.

      You act as if DREAM actually did a carbon copy of PRIDE. Heavens no. They did a bad imitation and gave up trying as things went along.

      UFC has the money and roster to put on a fabulous PRIDE tribute show if they wanted. As I said in another comment, they didn’t even have to do that — at least honor PRIDE’s legacy and bring over a bunch of the guys currently on their roster (Shogun, Nogueiras, Anderson) and legends like Coleman, Frye, Bas, and have a nice ceremony to promote.

      Instead, Dana’s barking that he won’t play PRIDE music, no ramps, etc. I laughed hard when Nikkan Sports actually translated his comments that he said to Ariel about how they were going to attack the Japanese market the same way they attack every other market.

      But the “UFC needs to emulate both failed Japanese MMA promoters and the currently failing Japanese MMA promoters to be successful in Japan” logic has never made any sense to me. PRIDE failed, let’s argue that it was because of a Yakuza scandal or whatever else….emulating PRIDE like K-1 and DREAM have tried to do (and are going bankrupt doing) is not a recipe for success.

      Totally revisionist history. The PRIDE product was a smashing success and incredibly did 20,000 or more with a heavy gaijin-loaded roster, which was against a lot of traditional odds in the country.

      What killed PRIDE was the police investigating them and starting to question the employees at Fuji, including the producer Kunio Kiyohara. Once Fuji pulled the plug on TV money, the gig was up.

      But to say that the PRIDE-style format was the reason for bankruptcy? Give me a break.

      • Shiuya says:

        I’ve been to a sold out expanded (48 000) SSA for the 2005 GP and the only Japanese fights were Yoshida vs an over the hill (or never on the hill) Tank and Nakamura (in the reserve match). To say that Japanese stars were essential is a bit of a stretch. I remember when they tried to hold the last BUSHIDO (Which was packed with Japanese fighters) in an expanded SSA and it was noticably less than half full (It was shocking how many empty seats there were). I think their best shot would have been to get Nog, CC, Silva and Ranpage to pack the house but I will take the over on the attendance. UFC will do fine coming less than twice a year and having PPV in the states. The fact is that as a teacher in Tokyo Kids don’t know any of the fighters. In 2004-5 the girls knew the whole K1 and PRIDE rosters. The days of a HUGE casual fan base are long gone. MMA will never be anywhere near what it was 8 years ago.

      • Jason Harris says:

        Zack, don’t mean to be venomous with my comments, just passionate.

        I still hold out that there is possibly room for ufc to go their own way. I don’t know that having a bunch of aging stars from a bygone era is the way to cement their future in a new live market.

        We’ll see how the show turns out.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    As an East Coast MMA fan, my only problem with this event is how long it’s going on for. I understand why they are doing it, because they need to start the event as late in the morning in Japan as possible. But from an American fans persective….

    4 months ago, the prelims started at 8, the PPV started at 9, and the event was over by midnight.

    For this event, The prelims start at 8, the PPV starts at 10 ends at 2am, and the FUEL TV post fight show ends at 3am.

    That is rather ridiculous….

    • Jeff says:

      I had the same feeling. When I host a few friends over for a UFC PPV, they have to drive about 30 minutes to my house. With an extra hour, they have the real possibility of arriving back at their houses near 3am. I may end up inviting them over Sunday to watch it then instead.

    • Norm says:

      I’ve noticed recently that they rarely use prelim fights during the live PPV broadcast as filler. They mostly just keep going through fights one after another until the main event.

      I vaguely recall a PPV not too long ago that start at 9pm that was done like around 11pm.

      I totally am with you on your criticisms, but I think (hope) this PPV could be over by 1am or a little after.

  6. Alan Conceicao says:

    Here’s a question:

    Given what it costs at this time to put on a high level MMA show, is there enough money in Japan for this sport to justify the large expenditure and market confusion of creating a separate Japanese MMA entity?

    The way I see it, PPV is a nonstarter there, doing business in Japan is exceedingly difficult to begin with, and even at PRIDE’s peak, TV money from then is dwarfed by US PPV sales of even a couple years ago, much less the present Fox contract + PPV sales. I don’t see why the UFC should try something other than their base product in the beginning, if ever.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Agreed.

      The desire to crack the Japanese market is mostly nostalgia-based rather than business-based. If the can’t/won’t support the existing UFC product, it will be no great loss from a business perspective to just move on and forget about them. They’d be better off concentrating their Pacific Rim efforts in Australia (where they have already done big numbers), Korea, and the Phillipines while continuing to nurture China as a potential (very) long-term market. Japan is a spent force in the MMA world.

      • Steve4192 says:

        You could also add Hawaii as a short-term Pacific Rim target market. If/when they get their messed up sanctioning fees worked out, that could give them a second immediately profitable market (to go with Australia) in the Pacfic.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I think some of it is business. In my opinion we are heading towards…. 12 PPV’s, 4 FOX Shows, 6 FX shows and 12 FUEL TV shows. That’s a minimum of 34 shows a year.

        The North American market cannot sustain this mainy shows. They are going to have to put on 1 to 2 shows per year in various countries. The only way for this to work is to test as many markets as possible.

        So far I could see 2 shows per year in the following countries…. Australia, Brazil, & UK. They need to double the number of countries and probably end up with 12 international cards. Put on 3 cards per year in Canada. Probably another 6 in Vegas.

        That leaves them with 13 non Vegas domestic cards per year. That is probably at their maximum.

        So I think these international events are needed much more then they like people to realize.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          It is also why New York is so important. It’s a guaranteed 2 shows per year…. Which reduces the domestic load even more. And then they can have their list of PPV and Fight Night level cities which they will only have to visit every 2 to 3 years.

          Right now they are using markets too quickly after their previous show which is why we continue to see dips in the gate numbers.

        • AfroSamurai says:

          12 ppv’s is something that has been long needed. Thats one of the the things i’m very happy that the FOX deal has allowed them to do.

          However i don’t see 3 cards a year in Canada after what Jon Jones Machida did. Unless Vancouver opens back up. But Brazil is definitely getting atleast 2 per year possibly more. I think some Fuel and FX cards should be visiting the other cities throughout Brazil.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          The North American market cannot sustain this mainy shows.

          What is the evidence of this? Merely OK ticket sales for merely OK cards at casinos (aka “bought shows”)? They don’t need to put them on in Australia or the UK. The houses simply don’t matter compared to TV money any more, especially for smaller non PPV cards.

        • Mark says:

          Sustaining internationally is not a given. They’re always in danger of burning out a country by running too many “low star power” shows and saving the big fights for the US and Canada shows.

          Especially now that FOX is going to get 8 to 12 fights a year that could have been good co-main events, they are in a tricky situation: do they want to keep FOX happy with 4 to 6 major names per card, or do they want to keep their PPV buyers happy by giving them loaded shows like how they built their business? They can’t run that many shows, especially with injuries as a constant wildcard, and not hit the wall either by having FOX angry or their PPV market lifeblood continue to dry up.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          http://mmajunkie.com/news/27446/ufc-on-fuel-tv-1-draws-a-reported-6283-attendance-for-406k-live-gate.mma

          Fight Night to Fight Night comparison. Went from Diaz/Neer doing a $700,000 gate to Sanchez/Ellenberger doing a $400,000 gate.

          http://mmajunkie.com/news/27233/ufc-on-fox-2-officially-draws-16963-attendance-and-1-27-million-gate.mma

          FOX 2 to PPV comparison. UFC 90 did a $2.8 Million gate. FOX 2 did $1.27 Million

          The writing is on the wall….

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          “the writing is on the wall”…but the primary form of income isn’t tickets sold any more. Its TV. It doesn’t matter as much. Besides, you can’t compare a PPV being run in a market that hasn’t had a UFC before to a free network TV show 3 1/2 years later for a multitude of reasons – all the shows put on since in the same market, the fact that people had to pay to watch UFC 90 either way, on and on and on. Even if they managed to sell $500,000 dollars more in tickets over in Australia, they have to uproot their production team and event staff and fly them halfway around the world to make the event happen.

  7. Darkmader says:

    Nice to see BE (Brent Brookhouse) give you some props.

    “Zach Arnold at Fight Opinion has much better insight into the Japanese market than most in the MMA media”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Ed. — I just hope people don’t make the mistake that I’m rooting against this show. I’ve expressed my disgust with the idiots that tore down the scene.

  8. frankp316 says:

    The main reason Dentsu was hired was to get the UFC on network TV in Japan. This is the only way they will get traction in Japan. Their current TV deal is not adequate. The bottom line is if this show doesn’t attract one of those networks, it’s a failure. It doesn’t look good.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Something I feel that has been lost in the shuffle is that Japan is create absolutely no new talent. Forget about star power for a minute. I’m talking about talent that can compete on the world stage.

    All of the Japanese guys in the UFC now have looked foolish at times.

    And DEEP, Pancrase, & Shooto don’t seem to be producing any talent for the future at all.

    It almost feels like when Yamamoto, Akiyama, Gomi, Hioki, and a few others eventually get cut…. There is going to be no Japanese fighters to replace them.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Zach,

    Please respond to this honest question:

    With all that you know, let’s say that YOU were in charge of running the UFC Japan show. You are, for all accounts, Dana White. What kind of show would you run? What would you do, what would you not do? What would you change?

    Now remember to take into account that you are the head of the UFC, and try to factor in all of the business responsibilities that go along with that….i.e. don’t look at it JUST from a JMMA-Superfan perspective.

    • The Gaijin says:

      He already told you – run a regular card (not a PRIDE nostalgia throwback) and add the following:

      “They could have easily celebrated PRIDE by bringing in a bunch of their current guys who are former PRIDE fighters and had a big ceremony to celebrate the country’s history. They could have also brought in guys like Mark Coleman & Don Frye to say hi to the fans.

      I’m not saying they should have, but it would have been a really nice touch.”

      They probably could have also planned ahead and slotted whatever relevant PRIDE fighters remain on their roster onto the card in meaningful fights that weren’t just throw away PRIDE nostalgia nods.

  11. RST says:

    I suspect that the UFC just might not be able to do it the Japanese way.

    Which seems kind of obvious when you say it outload.
    :)

    I mean who is a star this week,
    who has disgraced the culture this week,
    who is to tied to unsavory this,
    who is a cool foreigner and who is an invading forieghner that…

    Its just way to intricate for the UFC to do it that way.

    I think that the UFC’s best bet might be to just sell themselves as murikans with a murikan product.

    Of course you would think that there should be some efforts towards honoring the local culture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those all fall short just by their very nature.

    They may be better off doing what Rampage does, and just being grossly and hopefully fascinatingly Gaijin.

    Just a thought.

  12. Mark says:

    1 & 2) I think you have to liken them to the WWE’s Japanese business until proven otherwise. It’s trendy to go see the American thing over there, but it’s never business that lasts. They’ve got to get the miracle of all miracles to get a network TV deal (which has a less than zero chance of happening anytime soon) if they want to run shows there. But it still feels to me like they booked this as a vanity show and lucked out into doing better business than expected.

    3) There are no Japanese draws. The guys in Japanese orgs aren’t popular beyond Aoki and even he’s a blip on the cultural radar in 2012. Okami isn’t going to draw. Kid Yamamoto is seen as washed up. They simply do not care about MMA in 2012. Can this show be the beginning of rebuilding passion for MMA? I really hope so, but logically, it doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell. It cannot be overstated how much their passion for combat sports has changed since 2005 when PRIDE and K-1 peaked.

    4) I’m sure Japanese promoters are freaked out right now. Just like the Puro groups freaked out when WWE came in. But even more so because WWE was never interested in raiding Japanese talent and UFC would absolutely take all the Japanese fighters they can get. So I don’t think it’s so much “My attendance will drop because now we don’t look as major league”, but more “Uh-oh, my fighters are going to get an upclose look at the alternative.”

    5) No. TV is everything in every country. It’s impossible to become known enough for more than just hardcores to pay for your tickets without knowing who you are. They don’t even get regular coverage in the sports papers over there, do they? And even if they did, sports papers aren’t going to draw a crowd.

  13. [...] UFC could enter the Japanese market with a full-on nostalgia show. They could have brought all the big guns of the Pride era into the cage, put on the kind of spectacle of a show that Japanese MMA fans grew to love. Instead, White is [...]

  14. [...] UFC could enter the Japanese market with a full-on nostalgia show. They could have brought all the big guns of the Pride era into the cage, put on the kind of spectacle of a show that Japanese MMA fans grew to love. Instead, White is [...]

  15. fd says:

    https://twitter.com/#!/shiroobi/status/172023963944370176

    Suddenly TV Tokyo decide broadcast UFC 144 at midnight after event.3:15 AM to 4:45 AM.

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