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.
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. "
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.
UFC Quick Quote: Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson is bored by Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida
“Lyoto is a weird fighter, he’s kind of boring. I think that style works for him, the way he makes people run after him. I mean, he’s good, he’s undefeated, but he’s boring. If I was the promoter of a show I wouldn’t have guys like that fighting on my show.”
-Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson talks to MMA Fanhouse about the success of undefeated 205-pound contender Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida. Both Jackson and Machida are gunning for current light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans, though a win over Keith Jardine at UFC 96 will likely give Rampage the nod against “Sugar.” Still, it’s hard not to imagine these two facing off at some point down the road. And there’s nothing boring about that.
Are PPV Percentage Contracts Keeping UFC Stars off European Shows?
Only one star with a PPV percentage scale built into his contract has ever fought on a European UFC PPV show. His name is BJ Penn, and the show (UFC 80) did 225,000 buys. Given the very small bonus he got, it's no surprise that he doesn't have interest in participating in a tape delay PPV show from Germany.
Anderson Silva was originally pencilled in to fight at UFC 95 from London, but turned it down for similar reasons. He publicly said he wasn't ready, but this is the same guy who wanted to fight 3 weeks after his last one. Now he will ride Liddell's coattails to some decent money in April.
Penn Wants Late Summer Return
It’s family time for B.J. Penn, which means the UFC lightweight champion might not be back in the cage as soon as others would like.
UFC President Dana White told multiple press outlets last week that Penn’s next title defense against No. 1 contender Kenny Florian was a possibility for UFC 99 on June 13 in Cologne, Germany. However, Penn’s older brother and manager J.D. told Sherdog.com on Monday that the date is not feasible for his celebrated sibling.
“No, it’s too close to BJ’s last fight,” the elder Penn wrote in a text message. “He wants to spend time with his baby.”
UFC Returns To The UK 'At The End Of Summer'
The UFC will be returning to the UK in around seven months, possibly with two shows in close proximity, according to UFC UK division president Marshall Zelaznik.
Speaking to Fighters Only after UFC 95, he said that the UFC would probably return “at the end of summer” and also “possibly stage a show in early fall”.