The tradition of huge shows in Japan on New Year’s Eve goes back many years, but with the mixed martial arts and fight scene in general in the country failing over the last several months, many wondered if 2012 would be the first year no major show would close out 2013.
Thanks to Glory World Series and a partnership with DREAM, the New Year’s Eve show was saved, and later tonight a double card featuring several MMA bouts as well as a 16-man heavyweight kickboxing tournament will cap off 2013 in Japan.
Glory World Series Managing Director Marcus Luer was one of major players pushing for the New Year’s Eve date in Japan after watching Pride Fighting Championships and K-1 close out the year so many times in the past.
Now Luer and his Glory World Series team are looking at Japan and the United States as the two major markets his promotion wants to conquer in the coming year. The kickoff begins tonight in Japan, and continues on Monday and Tuesday in the United States as the show broadcasts on the CBS Sports Network.
The chance to go to Japan on New Year’s Eve was a no brainer for Leur, but this isn’t a one time ploy to jump and cash in on an age old product. This is a building block for the future, and hopefully the start of something big in Japan.
“Japan was a huge market and we believe with what we are doing we can revive it,” Luer told MMAWeekly.com from Japan. “If you look at our calendar for next year we’re looking at 3 events in Japan, and 3 events in the U.S. Another 4 in Europe, it’s a good even mix between the different parts of the world.
“We believe we are a worldwide company, but we will have a strong emphasis on core markets and that is U.S., Japan, and the big New Year’s Eve card is something we want to do every year.”
Coming to the United States is the next plan for Glory, who kick off the year in February with their new Road to Glory series for young, up and coming kickboxers in the States. From there they plan on putting on several shows including some of their biggest kickboxing tournaments that will land on American soil for the first time.
“We are coming to the United States with the Glory product next year, there’s a series of things we’re planning out. So for us this is sort of a kickoff to allow someone to first watch what we’re doing. This is by far the biggest tournament we’re running on a yearly basis, our 16-man heavyweight tournament in Glory is just absolutely off the charts,” said Luer.
“The American market is very important to us. We’ve got 2 or 3 things planned for next year. We have Road to Glory where the plan is to indentify American fighters, these kick off in February, they are not big shows, not high profile as what we’re doing here in Japan. Just a way to run a 8-man tournament in different weight categories. We’re looking to come in with our first full Glory show somewhere in the middle of the year, probably somewhere around May or June. Somewhere in the middle of that is a launch on television again.”
The television deal is a big part of being able to expand in America, and they’ve already nailed down a spot with CBS Sports Network for the New Year’s Eve card in Japan. The final product will be split into two parts with one airing on New Year’s Eve in America, and the second on New Year’s Day.
Luer says he’s been negotiating with CBS Sports Network for some time and believes they could be a long term partner for Glory in the United States.
“We’ve been in discussion with them for a couple of months now really, and I think they felt this was a great opportunity to test it for them. CBS hasn’t done much really in that space with CBS Sports Network, so they were looking at the particular genre, they like the size and scale of this event and the uniqueness that it is, and they had a window that fit their schedule,” said Luer.
Right now the plan is to make the New Year’s Eve show one of the biggest of the year, and then Luer and Glory will begin their expansion into the United States in early 2013, while continuing to breathe life back into the fading fight scene in Japan.
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