Just last week, UFC president Dana White mentioned that the UFC would be heading to Japan sooner rather than later.
Now it appears the promotion has targeted a tentative date and venue.
According to sources speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Sunday, UFC officials are looking at a Feb. 26, 2012, date in Japan with the show currently targeted for the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama.
While the venue has been reserved by agencies working with Zuffa in Japan, this is still just the preliminary location they are focusing on for a return to Japan. Other venues and locations are being looked at, but Saitama Super Arena is currently the most likely landing spot.
White predicted that the company would likely end up in Japan in 2011, although our sources are indicating the early part of 2012 is more realistic at this point.
“The rumor is true, we’re going to come to Japan and probably very soon,” White said last week.
UFC executive vice president Mark Fischer, who was hired in 2010 to lead Zuffa’s charge into Asia, is currently working to secure a finalized date and venue for the event.
Sources have indicated that Fischer is in contact with several Japanese promoters who have put on shows there before to help smooth the way for a UFC produced card.
While it’s unclear at this time whether or not Zuffa will actually work with a promoter to put on the show or not, Fischer has been in contact with at least a few as this process begins to bear fruit.
The UFC’s return to Japan is literally more than a decade in the making. The promotion hasn’t traveled to the “Land of the Rising Sun” since 2000.
White has spoken candidly about the problems he’s had trying to promote an event in Japan. But with the company expanding further into Asia, a region it considers a major market for the future, it’s a location they feel is a necessary part of the UFC’s global efforts.
MMAWeekly.com will have more information on the UFC Japan show when it becomes available.