Whenever a fight card is in a specific country, there should be fighters from that country on the card. Sounds simple, right?
For UFC’s return to Japan on September 20, the announcement of some major Japanese participants has finally been made.
Newly announced as scheduled for the UFC Fight Night card at the Saitama Super Arena are Takanori Gomi, Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Gomi was a star in Japan during his time with Pride Fighting Championships, but has gone 4-4 in UFC.
Gomi recently beat Isaac Vallie-Flagg by decision and expressed a desire to earn a lightweight title shot, mentioning he would even give up sake if he in fact earned a title shot at some point.
Yamamoto and Akiyama were major TV ratings grabbers for K-1 during the previous decade and were both major stars in Japan because of it.
Akiyama is especially noteworthy because he was a star as a good guy and a bad guy.
He was a good guy for his gold medal in men’s judo at the 2002 Asian Games and his early exploits in MMA.
He became the bad guy after illegally greasing his legs before a bout with Kazushi Sakuraba on New Year’s Eve 2006. That bout was supposed to be the passing of the torch from Sakuraba to Akiyama.
Both Akiyama and Yamamoto last fought at UFC 144 in March 2012, the return to Japan for UFC.
On that card, Yamamoto lost by first-round submission to Vaughan Lee and Akiyama lost to Jake Shields by unanimous decision.
Opponents for Gomi, Yamamoto and Akiyama have not been announced.
The main event for this UFC Fight Night card is a heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. Hunt was a major star in Japan during the previous decade thanks to his K-1 and MMA bouts.
Other bouts on the card include a women’s bantamweight bout between Miesha Tate and Rin Nakai in Nakai’s UFC debut and a flyweight bout between Kyoji Horiguchi and Chris Cariaso.
UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson will only be available on UFC Fight Pass.