After more than a decade, the UFC aims to make a return trip to Japan as soon as later this year or early 2012.
Mark Fischer, the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Zuffa's Asian Operations Division, made the revelation on Monday during a small press conference held in Tokyo, explaining that though there is no date currently set, the promotion plans to visit the land of the Rising Sun as soon as possible.
“I would say that we’re not ready to announce anything yet but that we’re hoping to have an event later this year or early next year in Japan," Fischer explained. “It’s a step-by-step process. It doesn’t happen overnight. We want to build up a good fan base, grow our media exposure, and we want fighters from different nationalities in the UFC before marketing to that nation and bringing in the big event."
With this news came the official announcement of a new content distribution deal with TV Bank, and NTT Plata that will see the UFC brand expand throughout Asia. The local distributors will offer increased content through cell phones, video options, and On Demand services.
“Today is a very important step in both expanding the number of Japanese fighters in the UFC as well as expanding our media platforms to bring the UFC to more fans than ever before. We want to make sure that any fan who wants to watch the UFC has the best access they can and, at the same time, reach new fans,” explained Fischer.
While the UFC has hosted four prior events in Japan, none have taken place under the promotion's current ownership. The last event on Asian soil was UFC 29: Defense of the Belts, held on December 16, 2000 at Differ Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Tito Ortiz successfully defended his title, submitting Yuki Kondo, while Chuck Liddell defeated Jeff Monson via Unanimous Decision. Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes, Evan Tanner, and others also held spots on the card.