Japanese New Years Battle Taking Shape

September 17, 2009

Dave Meltzer writes in the latest Wrestling Observer:

There may be another head-to-head New Year’s Eve battle in Japan, which will be interesting for Americans, because if it does happen, it’s K-1 vs. Sengoku, and HDNet has contracts with both, and both will have to be loaded shows.


Sengoku announced a match that could put the sport back on the mainstream map, with the debut of Satoshi Ishii, the 2008 Olympic heavyweight judo gold medalist, facing Hidehiko Yoshida, who captured gold in 1992 at 172 pounds. Even though Yoshida is only 8-7-1, he is one of the biggest MMA draws in Japan, and his face is all over television doing beverage commercials.


A network deal would create a very interesting ratings war, with both groups having at least prime attraction main events, since K-1 will headline with its biggest ratings draw, Masato, in his retirement match, and will likely load up with as many of the name fighters they have like Kid Yamamoto, Kazushi Sakuraba, Choi Hong-man, Bob Sapp, Hiroya, Minowa-man, Hideo Tokoro, Melvin Manhoef, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Bob Sapp.

Payout Perspective:

Sometimes all it takes for an industry to take off and thrive is a little bit of competition. It can raise exponentially higher levels of publicity, which can then be used to generate legitimate interest in the product. Much like MMA, people also like a good, clean, and honest fight between two corporate competitors.

And, MMA fans can only hope that a battle between two organizations is enough to renew the sport of MMA with Japanese fans. Japan is a country steeped in MMA tradition, possesses a great amount of MMA talent, and could potentially act as the launching pad for new, competitive MMA promotions looking to once again challenge the UFC.

The only reservation I have about the idea of concurrent NYE cards is that the state of the Japanese market is pretty fragile. If the extra publicity due to the competition fails to increase the overall size of the MMA viewership on Dec 31, the loser of the ratings battle could be dealt a severe blow.

It’s a risk.

One Response to “Japanese New Years Battle Taking Shape”

  1. Joseph on September 17th, 2009 5:44 PM

    Appreciate you guys writing about the Japanese MMA scene. The NYE winner will be HUGE and it may bump DREAM out of its TV deal and would put Sengoku in a favorable position with Ishii and Izumi (two Japanese Judo Gold Medalist) as prime time material for TV. DREAM is hoping to score Fedor from Strikeforce.

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