We already knew that Japanese MMA was in trouble. DREAM and parent company FEG are in financial trouble and are getting horrible television ratings. They have struggled to pay their fighters. There have even been rumors that their New Year’s Eve card will be their last. World Victory Road’s Sengoku may last a while longer, but they are not fairing much better. Now, in seemingly one blow the UFC signs Japanese stars “Kid” Yamamoto and Michihiro Omigawa. Those signing may not be the nail in the coffin of Japanese MMA, but they could indicate a trend.
Japanese MMA’s success depends on their stars. Now, several of the biggest Japanese MMA stars fights for the UFC. Guys like Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Takanori Gomi are huge stars. The UFC adds two more to their roster. I expect the trend continues. Don’t get me wrong Japan still has a few MMA super stars, but I expect North America to become more appealing. DREAM needs to hang onto guys like Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Ikuhisa Minowa and Satoshi Ishii. The problem is even their stars such as Sakuraba are declining. Sengoku appears to have less home grown talent. They have been relying on foreign stars such as Marlon Sandro and Maximo Blanco to carry them.
Honestly, Japanese MMA is a different entity. They have horrible match making which makes it nearly impossible to develop prospects. There are rumors of corruption and mafia control. The list goes on. Since the collapse of PRIDE Japanese MMA has not recovered. I look for UFC to become the premiere Japanese MMA organization in the near future.