MMA Fighting’s Dan Herbertson has been providing a steady stream of news and notes from the Japanese MMA scene in the past few days. Here’s a quick rundown, but I suggest you check out his articles on FEG and the UFC if you’re at all interested in what’s going on across the Pacific.
— It looks like it’s going to be awhile before FEG’s fate is decided. The parent company of K-1 and DREAM is currently going through a “restructuring” that isn’t expected to be completed until May, which means there won’t be any K-1 or DREAM events until at least July, if ever. FEG USA’s Mike Kogan confirms that high-profile fighters such as Alistair Overeem and JZ Cavalcante have yet to be paid as they claim. In other words, nothing has changed yet.
— Rumors of former PRIDE director Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s return to JMMA have begun to surface in Japan. Word is that Sakakibara is working with DREAM’s Hiroyuki Kato and former Sengoku event producer Takahiro Kokuho are planning a one-off event at a small venue the size of 3,000 seat JCB Hall sometime this Spring. While a small show doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, Herbertson explains why it is.
If these sources are correct, this event would change the face of Japanese MMA dramatically.
Firstly, it would most likely mean the end of DREAM and that there has been a split between Real Entertainment and FEG. This is not surprising at all and was bound to happen with the poor ratings, poor finances and with K-1 creator Kazuyoshi Ishii (although Ishii may be squeezed out in the current FEG restructuring) out of jail.
It’s the return of Nobuyuki Sakakibara to MMA that is simply mind boggling.
The Sakakibara back-story is complicated, but in short, no one understands how anyone would want to be involved with Sakakibara when his ties to the yakuza (that brought down PRIDE) will send any potential business partners and sponsors in the other direction.
In addition to Herbertson’s report, I also suggest checking out Zach Arnold’s thoughts on Sakakibara’s rumored return.