plans to return to Japan next year to host four events, UFC
executive Mark Fisher
recently told NikkanSports.com.
Fisher, the UFC executive vice president and managing director of
Asian operations, revealed that the new Japanese event series will
be held in small venues in front of about 5,000 spectators and will
focus on fighter development in the Land of the Rising Sun. The
Japanese shows are expected to receive distinct numbering apart
from the UFC’s larger, regular events.
The UFC returned to Japan this past February following an 11-year
absence to host UFC
144 at the Saitama Super Arena. The event was attended by
20,000 spectators and featured a title-winning performance from
Henderson in the main event, as “Smooth” wrested the
lightweight strap from then-champion Frankie
Edgar via unanimous decision.
Though longstanding organizations like Shooto and Pancrase still
actively hold events, Japan’s two most visible promotions from an
international standpoint, Dream and Sengoku, have both ceased
operations. From 1997 to 2007, Japan was home to the massively
popular Pride Fighting Championships until the promotion lost its
domestic television deal and was subsequently sold to UFC parent
company Zuffa. Prior to UFC 144, the Las Vegas-based organization
had not held an event on Japanese soil since December 2000, when
Ortiz defended his light heavyweight championship against
Kondo in the main event of UFC 29.
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