UFC’s Akiyama a Key to Other Asian Market
As soon as the news broke Wednesday that Yoshihiro Akiyama was UFC-bound, discussion blazed about Zuffa's continuing international expansion, and the signing's impact toward making inroads in the elusive Japanese market.
Between the ultimately disastrous handling of the Pride Fighting Championships buyout, the company's courting of proclaimed Japanese MMA savior Satoshi Ishii and the recent signing of star Caol Uno, UFC President Dana White and Zuffa have remained adamant that the Japanese market was a priority for the company, a notion only furthered by their signing of Akiyama, who remains one of the few viable draws in Japanese MMA.
It is extremely telling that the largest topic of the ensuing discourse is not where Akiyama, a borderline top-10 middleweight, fits into an increasingly interesting UFC middleweight class, but rather what the maneuver means for Zuffa's global strategy, whether it provides the company with any more leverage or interest in the market and whether it brings the Octagon any closer to a return to Nihon.
It would be myopic, however, to see the signing of Akiyama strictly as an investment in Zuffa constructing a future in Japan. In fact, there's a more immediately extravagant and potentially lucrative market now ripe for the taking with the inking of Akiyama. His ethnicity -- which has been both a gift and a curse over the course of his career -- may provide the company with a genuine cultural superstar in the growing South Korean market that Zuffa has already been keenly courting.
While he was born in Japan, Akiyama is a fourth-generation "zainichi," or ethnic Korean. His status as a K-1 star has afforded him a high athletic profile in Japan. However, as evidenced by their booming and creative film industry, South Koreans appreciate a stellar drama, and over the last eight years, Akiyama's cinematic personal story has seen him ascend from ignominious pariah to esteemed hero.
Interesting article that deals with the current business environment of mma in Asia.
Paul Kelly Moving From Welterweight To Lightweight
Following through on plans to leave the Welterweight division "on a winning note", UFC fighter Paul Kelly has announced he will be dropping to Lightweight for his next fight. Kelly, 2-1 in UFC so far, also plans to sign a new deal with UFC before his next fight.
Former Boxing Champ Rahman Headed to MMA
Former boxing heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman is coming to MMA sometime this year, according to the fighter’s agent.
Rahman, who knocked out Lennox Lewis in 2001 to win the linear heavyweight title, has his heart set on a mixed marital arts career, said Sondro Gelke, who represents him. Now living in Las Vegas, Rahman, 45-7 (36 KO), is coming off a one-sided, Dec. 13 seventh-round stoppage at the hands of IBF/WBO champ Wladimir Klitschko.
Rory Markham Fought with a Collapsed Lung at UFC 95
According to Sheridan's post on mixedmartialarts.com:
Rory's a friend of mine, and he's NOT making any excuses, but this is a pretty crazy story. He had a terrible weight cut in London, and cramped so badly after the weigh-ins that one of his lungs collapsed. He didn't even know it. He just said he was feeling pretty shitty.
JOSH KOSCHECK RETURNS AT UFC 98
Never one to sit back and miss an opportunity, UFC welterweight Josh Koscheck will return to action on May 23 as a part of the upcoming UFC 98 card in Las Vegas against an as of yet unnamed opponent.
HERRING VS VELASQUEZ AGREED TO FOR UFC 99
"American Kickboxing Academy heavyweight Cain Velasquez will move up another rung on the UFC heavyweight division ladder when he faces longtime veteran Heath Herring at UFC 99.
Sources close to the fight told MMAWeekly.com that the fighters had agreed to face each other at the UFC’s German debut on June 13, though bout agreements have yet to be signed. "
Tim Sylvia Set to box Ray Mercer, Affliction bout possible
In his first action since a July 2008 loss to Fedor Emelianenko, former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia will face Ray Mercer in the main event of Adrenaline MMA III.
First reported as a possible bout by Fiveouncesofpain.com, Sylvia's manager and Adrenaline MMA promoter Monte Cox today confirmed with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Sylvia vs. Mercer will be headlining the May 30 event at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
While first pitched as an MMA contest, Sylvia (24-5 MMA, 0-0 Boxing) will instead turn in his open-fingered gloves for a pair of boxing mitts.
Nick Thompson Signs With Strikeforce
The latest EliteXC outcast to make the jump to Strikeforce is Nick Thompson. He's not sure when SF will give him his first fight with the promotion, which he'll fight for when he's not fighting for World Victory Road Sengoku.
BOWLES OUT; MIZUGAKI TO FACE TORRES AT WEC 40
Miguel Torres will have a new opponent for his April 5 title defense at WEC 40 in Chicago, as MMAWeekly.com has confirmed that Brian Bowles has been forced out of the bout with an undisclosed injury. Stepping in to replace him is No. 6 ranked bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki, who is expected to sign a five-fight deal with the WEC, Torres being his first opponent.
The news was confirmed to MMAWeekly.com by multiple sources close to the fight on Wednesday.
Mizugaki makes not only his WEC debut, but also his debut in the United States with an impressive resume of fights on the worldwide stage. The Japanese based fighter has won his last five fights while competing in the GCM Cage Force series. He spent the biggest part of his career with the Shooto organization.
Shane Carwin UFC 96 Fight Blog (Part 2)
This week, I've really been amazed and grateful for the support I've been getting in our community. I have some of the most amazing fans and this week has been a strong reminder of that. Here at home, and even on the road, I have encountered the best fans that MMA has to offer.
Everywhere we go, people in town are stopping me to wish me good luck. There are months of sacrifice that go into getting ready for a fight; a lot of blood sweat and tears pour out in the privacy of our gym. I really do appreciate the fact that you recognize my efforts. Thank you to the great fans of this sport because without you I wouldn't be where I'm at. Not only that, but you are what injects this sport full of the energy I thrive on.
UFC Announces Full UFN 18 Card
For it's first trip to Tennessee, UFC is loading up it's April 1 UFN 18 card with 11 total fights. The card will be headlined by TUF 8 winners Efrain Escudero and Ryan Bader as well as WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit making his UFC debut.
Velasquez, Swick Targeted For 99 Returns
A couple of UFC fighters out of AKA are likely going to make the trip to Germany for UFC 99-top Heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez and Welterweight Mike Swick are both expected to be in action on the card but opponents haven't been determined.
Marcus Davis Wants To Pound Dan Hardy's Face Into Dust At UFC 99
Marcus Davis is not backing down from a challenge that Dan Hardy issued following a knockout win over Rory Markham at UFC 95: “Sanchez vs. Stevenson” this past weekend. “The Outlaw” mentioned wanting to fight “The Irish Hand Grenade” numerous times in his post-fight interviews. It seems as though his rhetoric may have worked-Davis told UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to set it up for UFC 99 at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, on June 13.
Crunkilton Out, Lamas In At WEC 39
A late change has been made to Sunday's WEC 39 card, as Rich Crunkilton is now off due to a knee injury. He was to have faced Bart Palaszewski with a potential WEC Lightweight Title shot on the line. Ricardo Lamas (5-0) is the replacement.