We’ve been talking a lot in recent months about the demise of FEG/K-1/DREAM in Japan. While I assumed their closest competitor in the Japanese MMA market was at least doing well enough to survive, word is that things have taken a sudden turn for the worse. I’m still trying to fully grasp what has happened, but apparently, a Japanese writer wrote a negative article about Sengoku and now their big sponsor, Don Quijote, is thinking about pulling their money out of the organization.

It’s hard to understand but Gong Kakutogi (Japanese MMA magazine) writer Manabu Takashima has written an anti-WVR article for the March issue of Gonkaku.

Because of the misleading/untrue contents of that article SRC sponsor Don Quijote are considering withdrawing. Apparently he wrote several things in the article that WVR immediately negated.

The next SRC event on April 23rd will most likely not happen. WVR are seeking an apology and correction from the writer.

Basically the article criticized Sengoku for poorly organizing their New Year’s Eve show and signing contracts and bout agreements the day of the fights, which is hardly news in Japanese MMA. Still, it was enough to alarm Don Quijote and make them question if they put their money on the wrong horse.

WVR immediately went into damage control mode and posted a rebuttal piece on their website, but it doesn’t seem like that has really helped the situation. WVR says they’ve been forced to postpone their April 23 Sengoku 17 event and they won’t be able to survive without the support of Don Quijote. MMA Fighting’s Dan Herbertson has more:

Discount chain store Don Quijote, chaired by Takao Yasuda, is arguably the most important company supporting Japanese MMA. Don Quijote’s money bought Pancrase out of debt, founded SRC’s parent company World Victory Road and has been a major sponsor of Shooto, DREAM and Pride FC.

If Don Quijote pulled its money out of MMA, it would be catastrophic.

Sources close to WVR claim that the catalyst for this problem with Yasuda was Kamipro Issue 155, page 58, in which a trio of would-be comedians joked about how many empty seats there were at WVR’s Soul of Fight. One said, “All that empty space was important in case of fire.” The rather unfunny one-liner in Kamipro reportedly enraged Yasuda and left him wondering why he could not get any support from the Japanese MMA industry.

Yasuda’s frustration with Kamipro is understandable as the Japanese magazine is famously FEG-centric and pays little attention to SRC. That is well known within the industry, but apparently not known by Yasuda. With the failure of Soul of Fight (Ariake Coliseum was around half empty) and Kamipro’s jokes, Yasuda was left wondering why he has put his money into a sport that is not profitable and does not have a positive community.

Sherdog’s Japanese MMA correspondent Tony Loiseleur has a more optimistic take on the story and doesn’t think the possibility of Don Quijote pulling out is quite as high as people are making it out to be. I don’t know, but there sure aren’t a lot of promising stories coming out of Japan lately.