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Notes from Japanese MMA’s deathbed

I always say that Japanese MMA is dying the slow death of a fad – scary shit to witness when everyone over here in North America acts like our golden age will never end. But I’m a self-admitted retard when it comes to the Asian scene. For all I know, Japanese MMA could be one giant negro away from becoming a huge hit again. So let’s take a look at what some more informed people are saying. First, Fighters Only sits down with an anonymous mystery agent from Japan:

“PURI has promised K-1 it will find $200 million in investment – well, what if it doesn’t? What if nobody wants to invest? And that is extremely likely, given the state of Japanese MMA at the moment – would you invest your money in it?” he said.

“The top purse on DREAM these days is something like $30,000 in American dollars,” the agent says. “Sakuraba might get something like $50,000 or $70,000. They just don’t have the money to bring in the big names and if they can’t do that they will not win the fans back. They just aren’t interested.”

After a long pause the agent gave a heavy sigh and said, with heavy regret, “Japan is dead.”

Then there’s this report from a Sengoku publicity event Kampiro magazine roundtable that was streamed online:

Decidedly, it is Sengoku’s ideal that the top fighters shall earn 300,000, 500,000, perhaps 1,000,000 yen (approximately $3,420, $5,700 and $11,400, respectively). Under such conditions, even champions would have to hold a day job, and to pursue fighting as a secondary venture, which incidentally is not unlike the state of boxing in Japan.

As regards Sengoku’s chief rival Dream, it would seem that Sengoku’s strategy is to wait for Dream to destroy itself. Consideration of circumstances yields the following summation of Sengoku’s apparent strategy: “even without us trying, Dream will turn to nothing. This will be an effortless victory.” Were Dream to go under, Sengoku would become the number one promotion by default; such is the current landscape.

According to two employees of the company, were it to occur that the Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) withdrew its support, Sengoku’s assets (according to prior financial statements) would total just 6,000,000 yen (approximately $68,400). This begs the question if Sengoku’s actions and rhetoric are not merely a result of this reality.

Not exactly the rosy image of Sengoku that MMA Fighting portrayed earlier this week:

Sengoku though is clearly setting up the potential for growth. “Slowly and steadily” they are acquiring new talent from partner promotions Shooto and Pancrase, setting up a system to develop their “training players” and signing the occasional big name to bring in the sponsors. Not everything has worked out so far but Sengoku’s base is now spread so wide and has such structure that rapid growth and success over the coming years is inevitable.

Oh yeah, I’m sure there’s gonna be tons of great talent chomping at the bit to maybe make 5 grand a fight two or three times a year IF they’re one of Sengoku’s top superstars.

*UPDATE* Daniel Herbertson, he who wrote the above MMA Fighting report on Sengoku, commented in the forums that my second link was not official info from Sengoku but from some writers at Kampiro magazine and is considered speculative at the moment – let this be the last time I blindly trust info from a website called ‘Steve Rattlesnake MMA.’ Still, I can’t help but look with my eyeballs at what I see Sengoku up to and disagree with Dan on success being ‘inevitable.’ But hey, we’ve already covered this … me = idiot. Herbertson = guy living in Japan who’s so close to the MMA scene that he often gets blood all over him from the ring.