According to official statements from UFC President Dana White and Zuffa’s area-head Mark Fischer, the Octagon will show up in the PRIDE/DREAM stomping ground of Saitama Super Arena on February 26 with the intent to fill the historic arena with at least 20,000 fans.
“(Quinton) ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, (Antonio Rodrigo) “Minotauro” Nogueira all made names for themselves fighting in the PRIDE organization and dozens more fought in front of the passionate Japanese fans at some point in their careers,” White said in a prepared message for media. “Japan has also produced world class fighters such as (Yoshihiro) Akiyama, (Takanori) Gomi, and Yushin Okami. They have all headlined major UFC events all over the world. Now, this February, the wait is finally over – we’re coming back to Japan.”
Akiyama and Nogueira have already expressed interest in a spot on the card with other popular Asian fighters on the UFC’s roster like Dong Hyun Kim, Hatsu Hioki, and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto also seemingly locks for the show if health allows.
UFC 29 marked the last time the UFC visited Japan. To give some perspective on the event and how much things have changed, Chuck Liddell fought Jeff Monson and Dennis Hallman beat the pants off of Matt Hughes.
The announced show will be the second time in six months the organization will have returned to the birthplace of many of MMA’s disciplines after a long break between stops with the first involving last month’s epic event in Rio de Janeiro.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC