Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold has a rep for being generally on point when it comes to how things work in the wacky world of Japanese MMA. And if you believe what he’s saying, the UFC might have problems with Yakuza goons screwing up their show:
One of the most fascinating questions I had going into UFC’s announcement of running Saitama Super Arena is what kind of trouble they were asking for. The only people who can largely afford to pay the expensive front-row seats are yakuza stooges who are a) looking to cause trouble and get into or bet on fights or b) look to work over foreigners and glad-hand politically in order to screw someone over. Anyone who knows the history of Japanese fighting events knows that the rackets want their protection money (often looked upon by promoters as a ‘tax’) and have crashed shows in the past. The whole yakuza scandal that imploded PRIDE was about Seiya Kawamata, a yakuza fixer whose job it was to keep to the mafia out of the front row and backstage hidden away from police.
So, you might naturally suspect (and be correct in assuming) that there’s some people who are looking forward to showing up at the UFC Japan event to cause trouble. By running a show at the same time in Las Vegas, it gives Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta a reason to stay the hell away from Japan. And for good reason. This is smart. I just feel for Mark Fischer and anyone else Zuffa sends over to try to run the show.
Jeez, he makes it sound like they’ll be lucky to get out with their lives / fingers.