Japan is rich with MMA history, though recent MMA history in the country has been lacking. This is where UFC comes in and attempts to maintain Japan as an MMA country.
Seriously, that really appears to be what’s happening.
Now it appears that they are offering something more substantive than their yearly card in the country or their own programming appearing on Japanese television. .
Dave Meltzer is reporting that UFC is partnering up with Vale Tudo Japan, formerly known as Shooto, for a television show built around MMA tournaments.
Shooto was founded in 1985 by Japanese pro wrestling legend Satoru Sayama. It was first called Shooting and is the first MMA promotion in history, both amateur and professional.
Details given by UFC President Dana White on the final leg of his tour of the Far East were the following:
1. The tournaments will use featherweight and bantamweight fighters
2. Each tournament will be contested between eight fighters
3. The tournament is a round-robin style, meaning that all eight fighters will fight the other seven and those with the best win-loss record will win a UFC contract
4. There will be 30 televised episodes of these tournaments with three bouts on each episode and the whole thing will span eight months
The format is nothing new in Japan as sumo tournaments have used this style for decades, as have pro wrestling promotions for their major tournaments in various instances.
However, for those thinking that this show will be The Ultimate Fighter as American viewers know it just with some tweaks to the tournament format, White wants you to stop right there:
“They won’t live in a house, and they won’t train under guys that we bring in. They will train with their own coaches and do their own thing. People will see they where they train, where they live, and their families. They’ll get more in-depth. It’ll be a real look at who these guys are. The thing about TUF is you put guys in a pressure cooker, and it’s f***ing insane. Well, it wasn’t last season, but the other seasons.”
White also gave out other details on the show when he said, “This show will be very Japanese. It will be shot here in Japan by a big, reputable company, for the Japanese market, to build Japanese stars.”
As for whether or not this show will be airing simultaneously on UFC Fight Pass, White isn’t 100% sure one way or the other, saying, “It’s still a work in progress. But if I had to give an answer right now, I’d say, yes, it will.”