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It’s Showtime will do MMA and kickboxing in Japan

It’s Showtime recently announced that they were partnering up with an investment company to take their shows to the next level, and the more information we get, the more it sounds like they plan to usurp FEG’s position in Japan as the big dog of combat sports. They’re already planning to throw kickboxing events, and now:

Akira Maeda has announced that he is resurrecting RINGS, the promotion which brought Fedor Emelianenko, Rodrigo Nogueira and others into the public eye.

A former pro-wrestling star now working with the DREAM promotion, Maeda announced that RINGS will stage a show in March 2012, with a focus on the lighter weight classes. He says he will be working in conjunction with Its Showtime Japan.

The announcement has interesting context. DREAM is owned by FEG, which also owns K-1. Both shows have been struggling and FEG has been desperately searching for a financial backer. In the meantime, it has been running a threadbare program of events.

Iiiiiinteresting. It’s Showtime is getting into kickboxing AND mixed martial arts. Sure, nothing’s happening till next year and even then the events It’s Showtime and RINGS (always IN CAPS FOR SOME REASON! JAPAN IS PARTICULAR) plan on throwing are pretty small, one wonders if the plan is to scale up and see what the market can bear.

The death of PRIDE rocked Japanese MMA worse than an inappropriate comparison to the recent tsunami disaster, and it may be that things will never return to the Super Arena stature of the past. But it’s certainly nice knowing that there are still companies out there who will carry the flag for Japan and Japanese combat sports. Companies that aren’t sketchy like FEG:

DREAM has done nothing this year apart from the opportune ‘Fight for Japan’ event which purported to raise money for areas of Japan affected by the recent disasters there. How much money was actually raised by the event, which had no TV deal and a very average attendance, is debatable. No figures have been published.

But like most combat sports legends, Maeda has baggage of his own. He’s spent the past few years throwing gangster fight events in Japan that are literally teeming with Yakuza, and before that he didn’t manage to pull much off running K-1’s original MMA promotion, HERO’S (again, specific CAPS LOCK, specific punctuation’s). But at least he pays the fighters who fight for him, and is willing to give new fighters a chance. Anything other than FEG at this point is acceptable, even if the guy used to work for FEG.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Focusing on weight classes where you’re guaranteed action and possible Japanese stars?  Off to a good start.