It's no secret that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is more than excited to return to Japan for UFC 144 this Saturday night. The former PRIDE standout spent over five years fighting and entertaining fans overseas before leaving for the WFA and UFC shortly before the collapse of Japanese MMA.
His co-main event bout against former "TUF" winner Ryan Bader is one that Jackson had to fight for. The former UFC light heavyweight champ admits that he had to put up quite a fight to land on this weekend's card, potentially angering UFC officials in the process. However the ability to have his family watch him fight in Japan one more time was worth it all:
“It’s a no-brainer. The UFC is going back to Japan and I got my big break in Japan. I wanted to be there,” he added. “I couldn’t just say it was on my bucket list, but you know what I’m saying, it was a no-brainer that UFC is putting on a show in Japan and I wanted to be on that card.”
“It’s very important to me personally. My kids are from Japan; my kids’ grandparents are from there. They’ve never really watched me fight back in the day, and I’ve got a lot of experience in Japan,” said the former UFC light heavyweight titleholder. "I really miss the fans; I’m not going to lie. I really miss fighting there. So it was something personal for me. My two younger kids can come watch me fight and the in-laws can be in the crowd and watch me fight. I never had that before, so it is something that I want to do.”
You can watch and listen to Rampage talk more about his excitement about fighting in Japan here.
A friend of mine asked for my prediction on Rampage and Bader earlier in the week. While Jackson is all about putting a show for the fans regardless of the result against Bader, something tells me that he will refuse to lose in Japan.
When the UFC returns to Japan for its first event in the country since December 2000, it will also be the first time that the promotion has brought an event since purchasing and then dismantling PRIDE Fighting Championships close to five years ago.
Japan was once the mecca of mixed martial arts and PRIDE was the biggest organiation, both in the "Land of the Rising Sun" and the world, as fans and fighters alike believed that most of the world's top fighters were fighting within.
Everyone but Dana White and the UFC of course. Even though White sees that the PRIDE brand still has value, he doesn't plan on bringing it back from the dead anytime soon:
"Do I think this is going to be a PRIDE event and 100,000 people are going to show up, and it's going to be (like that)?" White asked. "No, I don't think that. But I think that there is a fanbase there for the UFC. People keep asking me, 'Oh, will you play the PRIDE music? Will you do (this or that)?' No, this isn't PRIDE. It's the UFC. The UFC is coming to Japan, and what the people in Japan are going to see is what they see on television, if they're UFC fans."
"We're going to slowly try to build that market back up, and we'll see what happens," White said. "There's no pro wrestlers, and you're not going to see some 400-pound dude fighting a 100-pound dude. None of that stuff's going to happen. The UFC is going to go in there, and we have fans there already. Those fans are going to show up."
While a second chance for PRIDE would overjoy fans and likely become a profitable venture, White is making the right decision. MMA isn't what it used to be in Japan. DREAM is struggling to survive, K-1 is dead and Sengoku isn't coming back. Until the MMA market in Asia steadily improves, there's no reason to not run anymore than a show or two there per year.
Fedor Emelianenko. Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce.
The Daily Recap is a collection of news and notes from around the web that will be posted at the end of each day. Bout signings, injury news and much more can all be found here.
— Following his shocking loss to Antonio Silva, Fedor Emelianenko has been medically suspended indefinitely by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. He will not be permitted to compete until he's cleared by a doctor after an upcoming CT scan of his head and face. However, he did not suffer a broken orbital bone as widely speculated. Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski will also be sidelined for a mandatory 30 days following his KO loss to Sergei Kharitonov. [MMAJunkie.com]
— A featherweight bout between one-time planned title contender Josh Grispi and "TUF" alumnus George Roop has been booked for the TUF 13 Finale in Las Vegas on June 4. Grispi had a ten-fight winning streak snapped by Dustin Porier at UFC 125 on Jan 1, while Roop suffered a one-sided loss to Mark Hominick just days later at UFC Fight for the Troops II. [MMA Mania]
Real Entertainment, a company made up of former PRIDE Fighting Championships employees and recent co-producers of the DREAM brand are planning an eight-man lightweight tournament that would kick off this May.
According to Josh Gross of ESPN.com, the event would be staged without the help of FEG, the parent company of K-1 and DREAM, amidst huge financial woes and claims that FEG is in debt to Real Entertainment employees.
In addition, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has confirmed that he is in talks with the promotional group to send up to five of his fighters over to participate.
Patrick Cote. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
- Canadian middleweight Patrick “The Predator” Cote will be out until 2010 after undergoing surgery to repair his injured MCL. Cote originally injured his knee in his UFC 90 title bout with Anderson Silva and is now expected to be out until at least February. [Sportsnet]
- Following WEC 42, $10,000 bonuses were handed out for Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night, and Fight of the Night. The winners were Brian Bowles (KOTN), Rani Yahya (SOTN), and Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez (FOTN). [MMAWeekly.com]
Fedor Emelianenko. Photo by Tracy Lee/CombatLifestyle.com.
It was supposed to be different this time around.
With the collapse of Affliction complete and the list of suitable non-UFC opponents dwindling, the top heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, seemed likely to finally sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However despite early reports suggesting that a deal was imminent, we stand here with the two sides as distant as ever, and it comes as no surprise.
From PRIDE 21: “Demolition” in June 2002, here’s the legendary fight between two-time UFC tournament winner Don Frye and Japanese veteran Yoshihiro Takayama. Frye will return to action tonight in the main event of “Shark Fights 4”, which will take place at the Citibank Coliseum in Lubbock, Texas. “Ultimate Fighter” product Jesse Taylor and heavyweight prospect Rex Richards will also be on the card.
Urijah Faber. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Action-figure toy leader JAKKS Pacific, with whom the Ultimate Fighting Championship signed a distribution deal with earlier this year, announced today that they will launch a series of figures based on fighters that have fought in the WEC in PRIDE in Spring 2010.
“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with UFC by adding WEC and PRIDE to our action figure roster,” Jakks President Stephen Berman said in a press release sent out to the media today.
“As the world leader in fighting action figure toys, we plan on dominating the Mixed Martial Arts collector action figure arena. The addition of WEC and PRIDE gives JAKKS a substantial base of fighters with which to work and develop into a broad and exciting line of collectable products for fans.”
JAAKS is also set to begin selling various UFC-themed products, including watches, clothing, and other accessories starting next year.
Forrest Griffin was always crazy, even in high school.
Props to frankiscool at the UG for the find.
Sakakibara, DSE Sue Fertittas, Zuffa
Two months after Zuffa, under the name PRIDE FC Worldwide, filed a lawsuit against former PRIDE parent company Dream Stage Entertainment claiming that they were defrauded during their purchase of PRIDE in March of last year, DSE and Nobuyuki Sakakibara have countered with a lawsuit of their own.
More from Swift:
The suit filed by the former owners of Pride in federal court, under diversity jurisdiction, seeks damages for breach of the asset purchase and consulting agreements that were part of the Pride transaction, as well as fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
The complaint alleges that Pride was sold to the owners of the UFC with the promise that the Pride brand would be maintained as a “global top-level brand.” This promise allegedly resulted in the former owners’ decision to sell to the Fertittas despite more lucrative financial offers from other suitors.
DREAM Planning Events on U.S. Soil?
DREAM could potentially hold shows in the United States if the promotion eventually gains the popularity that PRIDE once had as well as a television deal according to Fight Entertainment Group figurehead Sadaharu Tanikawa.
From MMA Weekly:
FEG executive, Sadaharu Tanikawa stated that their hopes are to first establish a brand name in Japan before trying their hand in the United States. Tanikawa went on the record saying that it would take “maybe a year or two” for the new Dream promotion to gain the same strength among fans that the former Pride brand did before their demise.
With DREAM and HDNet already in talks about a possible deal, Tanikawa’s idea could become a reality sooner than later, especially if they could come to some sort of a deal with EliteXC or HDNet Fights to get some notable American names on the card.
Sakurai-Baron Set for Shooto Fight in May
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai will attempt to keep his current five-fight winning streak intact when he takes on fellow PRIDE veteran David Baron at a Shooto event in May according to a report from Sports Navi.
Sakurai stopped Hidetaka Monma with strikes at DREAM’s inaugural event last month. Baron, who is mostly known for his loss to Takanori Gomi at PRIDE Bushido 12 in the summer of 2006, has won his last three fights since then.
Touch of gloves to Fight Opinion for the find.
Emerson Replaces Stephens at UFC 84
Update 2:30 PM ET: Our friends at MMA Junkie have learned that a possible “minor legal situation” may be preventing Stephens from fighting on the card but he expects to return to action this summer.
Sam Cupitt over at Five Ounces of Pain has noticed that Rob Emerson, a contestant on the fifth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, has replaced Iowa native Jeremy Stephens in a scheduled lightweight bout against Terry Etim at UFC 84: Ill Will according to the UFC’s official website.
It was reported back in February that Etim and Stephens had signed bout agreements, making the fight good to go. No word as of yet on why Stephens was forced out of the bout.
Photo courtesy of World Victory Road.
As if poor television ratings for DREAM’s recent show weren’t already a good sign for World Victory Road, it appears that the promotion has secured a television deal with Fuji TV.
The news comes from MMA News, which reports that the station will broadcast tape-delayed segments from the organization’s debut show on March 5th on a program entitled “Special Ring Side”, which will feature highlights from kickboxing and mixed martial arts events around the country.
It will be the first time that Fuji TV has broadcast any type of MMA since the network broke off ties with the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships, which enjoyed a long-run of ratings success until June 2006 when the channel dropped PRIDE from it’s lineup, citing a breach of contract.
However most believe that there were concerns with PRIDE parent company Dream Stage Entertainment’s rumored ties with the Yakuza, a Japan-based organized crime ring.
Zach Arnold has pointed out that Seiya Kawamata, a close confidant of K-1 creator Kazuyoshi Ishii, seems to be running the show these days when it comes to DREAM, which is promoted by Fight Entertainment Group and many former employees of DSE. The promotion’s debut show last weekend only scored a 8.9% share on the Tokyo Broadcasting System, a number that is considered to be sub-par.
It’s been said that Kawamata was the driving force behind the media getting ahold of the the DSE-Yakuza story and eventually causing Fuji TV officials to drop PRIDE programming, likely in order to help K-1 gain an advantage in the ratings war.
Ironically Kawamata’s strategy didn’t work and he’s now working with some of the same staff that he once attempted to bring down. Could we see Kawamata try something similar when it comes to J-ROCK and World Victory Road in an attempt to get his product back on Fuji TV once again? Time will tell.