The future of Mixed Martial Arts in Japan has been a hot topic as of late due to financial woes and underwhelming fan support for DREAM, a company many felt act as successor to the historic, now defunct PRIDE organization. However, while the outlook remains bleak for home-based promotions, a ray of hope regarding the Japanese audience being provided high-level MMA recently increased in scope and intensity with the UFC’s announcement of a deal with local distributors to offer increased content through cell phones, video options, and On Demand services.
“Today is a very important step in both expanding the number of Japanese fighters in the UFC as well as expanding our media platforms to bring the UFC to more fans than ever before. We want to make sure that any fan who wants to watch the UFC has the best access they can and, at the same time, reach new fans,” explained Mark Fischer, Zuffa’s Executive VP and Managing Director in Asia, in a statement to media.
Also discussed during the proceedings were the possibility of promoting a live event in Japan and how the newly formed relationship might assist in facilitating it.
“We definitely want to hold a major event in Japan as soon as possible,” said Fischer. “I would say that we’re not ready to announce anything yet but that we’re hoping to have an event later this year or early next year in Japan.”
“It’s a step-by-step process,” he continued on the subject. “It doesn’t happen overnight. We want to build up a good fan base, grow our media exposure, and we want fighters from different nationalities in the UFC before marketing to that nation and bringing in the big event. That big event will be more successful then, and I think that’s what we’re doing here in Japan.”
The UFC has not held an event in Japan since Zuffa purchased the organization a decade ago. The card, UFC 29, featured a number of interesting moments in retrospect including Chuck Liddell fighting Jeff Monson, one of Matt Hughes’ losses to Dennis Hallman, and appearances by Matt Lindland, Pat Miletich, Evan Tanner, and Tito Ortiz.