Sengoku Loses Primary Sponsor, Promotion’s Future in Doubt


Sengoku Raiden Championship has lost its primary sponsor. | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com


On a day in which the Tohoku Region earthquake has devastated Japan, the island nation’s MMA community has taken a major hit, as well, as primary sponsor Don Quijote has officially terminated its sponsorship of Sengoku Raiden Championship, according to an SRC release.

Since its inception in 2007, Sengoku has been sponsored by the Japanese retail giant. However, the commitment of “Donki” has been questioned lately as the downturn in Japanese MMA and the mounting debt of the promotion has led the company to reassess its patronage.

“We have been supporting MMA with just our passions and dreams, regardless of our huge deficits,” the statement said. “But, some heartless media have picked us apart in magazines, and we have been suffering from them. We have run out of patience.”

On Feb. 1, SRC published a lengthy rebuttal, criticizing an interview with SRC featherweight champion Hatsu Hioki by journalist Manabu Takashima in the March 2011 issue of combat sports periodical Gong Kakutogi. The company took issue with the characterization of its Dec. 30 “Soul of Fight” event being disorganized and being a potential death knell for the promotion, hinting that Don Quijote’s sponsorship may soon be retracted.

The announcement complicates difficult times for SRC and parent company World Victory Road. After originally anticipating a February card with the conclusions of its SRC Asia bantamweight grand prix, the event was pushed back to April 23, before being postponed yet again after the blow-up in February.

One of Japan’s largest retailers, Don Quijote took in $122 million USD in profit in 2010. The discount store chain has supported MMA largely at the behest of its chairman, Takao Yasuda, over the last few years. Originally, the company supported well-known Yoshida Dojo products, such as Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida and Kazuhiro Nakamura, but eventually branched out into event sponsorship. However, “Donki” made clear in the statement that the company plans to continue to sponsor other Japanese events such as Pancrase and Shooto, as well as continuing its relationship with FILA and the Japanese Wrestling Association.

“It is a shame to reveal our situation, but the reality is that we have to throw our hands up without our parent company and sponsor companies that we have counted on,” said the release. “If there is no company that can help us, we have to think about the worst case scenario: the end of SRC.”

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