The UFC’s international expansion efforts have always been a little bit wonky. They go into a new region, and if that region explodes into a fireball of passionate MMA fandom like Brazil did, they come back for many more shows. If the response is anything less than insta-adoration, then local fans better enjoy the one show they get a year. That’s basically how it’s been for the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan. What ever happened to putting in the hard work to develop a region?
It probably took the threat of other MMA promotions taking over Asia, but the UFC is finally doing things a little differently in order to bust into a country. And that country is Japan. Take it away, Asian MMA:
The UFC is putting together a Japan only series that will take place in Japan throughout 2013 according to Japanese sports paper NikkanSports.
The company has been planning to put together a series of events that will take place within smaller venues. Four events will take place throughout 2013, according to the article. The series will be “Japanese fighter” centric, said Mark Fisher, UFC’s Asian chief. The plan is to hold the events in a venue to be named with a target attendance of 5000 people.
The events will not fall into the number series of events. No word was given as to the airing of the events, but it seems the ball is rolling for this sort of event.
The arrival of the lighter weight classes in the UFC was supposed to trigger a resurgence in talent from places like Asia, but so far we haven’t seen it. Blame scouting or blame limitations in the UFC’s current scheduling structure. Whatever it is, a series of events IN Japan FOR Japanese fighters should finally help the promotion develop some local talent while also giving the scene the love and attention it needs to flourish. Best of all, it shows that the UFC is starting to think a bit more creatively about what it’s up to than just scheduling in PPV / FOX / FX / FUEL shows. Is this the beginning of what essentially becomes local UFC feeder leagues? That would be pretty cool.
*UPDATE* Mr UFC Asian Chief Mark Fisher just walked back reports, saying these are “just things we’re looking at.” Sounds like someone needs to learn how to say less like Scott Coker. Still, if the UFC is listening: THIS IS A GOOD IDEA! DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR ONCE.