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.