The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has announced their return to Japan at a press conference featuring a video-taped message from Dana White and UFC-Asia Executive Vice-President and Managing Director Mark Fischer live and in-person. The event will be held in the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Feb. 26, 2012.
The event will be held at approximately 10 a.m. local time so that it will air at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 25 in North America to accommodate pay-per-view schedules. A videotaped message from Dana White, who was not present, was part of the press conference.
UFC fighters Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto, Riki Fukuda, Takanori Gomi, Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Michihiro Omigawa, Hatsu Hioki and Takeya Mizugaki all attended the press conference, but no fighters were announced for the card.
The Saitama Super Arena will be configured to allow for 20,000 fans.
The UFC held three events in Japan in the early part of the 2000's. Those events were held in the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, the Tokyo Bay NK Hall and Yoyogi National Gymnasium in in Tokyo.
The UFC's parent company, Zuffa, purchased Japan's top MMA promotion, the Pride Fighting Championship, in 2007 but never put on an event, despite hoping to do so.
Ex-Pride fighters Wanderlei Silva, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are with the UFC and could also fight on the Feb. 26 card. Nogueira has already stated his hopes to fight on the card.
"We want to let everyone know that we will be bringing the same high level of UFC competition, the same world class show and presentation, and great fights and the greatest athletes in the world to Japan," said Fischer according to Sherdog's Tony Loiseleur.
"To give another idea of the scope of this event, it will literally be witnessed by millions of fans all over the world," said Fischer. "Moreover, this event will be a boon for Japan's economy. For example, UFC 100 in Las Vegas generated more than $51 million for the local economy. In Sydney, Australia, our two events generated over $30 million for the local economy. We're pleased to bring the similarly anticipated event to Saitama and the greater Tokyo area.
"Let me also say that while UFC Japan in 2012 will be the first event for Zuffa in Asia, it certainly won't be the last. We hope to make UFC Japan an annual fixture on our calendar and we also have plans to follow-up with a series of high quality events across Asia," said Fischer.