Mixed martial arts is a better sport when it has veteran scribe Josh Gross writing about it, and his latest takes a look back at Japan’s PRIDE FC and ponders if there’s a place for shows like that in the modern world.
Here’s an excerpt, but definitely read the whole article.
Founded one year ago, the Rizin Fighting Federation represents Sakakibara’s effort to rebuild himself and the industry many believe he failed. Accountable for the demise of Pride—and the subsequent regression of MMA in Japan in its absence—Sakakibara said there remains tremendous potential for the sport in Japan and across Asia.
“Obviously, Japan is not as big as the U.S., but in terms of consumption and the ability to pay, which comes to the fighters and investment in the sport with sponsors, Japan still has the ability to do so,” Sakakibara said. “Yes the Asian market has grown, but a lot of these countries still need development and education toward investing and funding into the sport. How I look at it is Japan still has big potential. Obviously, all the Asian countries have big potential for the future, but as of right now Japan still has the capital to be the center of Asian MMA.”
Key to Rizin’s concept is taking on the roll of a “federation” rather than a run-of-the-mill MMA promotion where everything is contained in house. By doing so, Sakakibara sees Rizin creating what the UFC-Pride merger failed to do: a place for fighters, regardless of the organizations they represent, to participate on neutral territory against all comers. Sort of like the UEFA Champions League.