UFC Japan “Hunt vs Nelson” was kicked off by a press conference held in Tokyo on June 26, 2014.
An anticipated project announcement was revealed as the promotion intends to cooperate with Shooto Commission-organized Vale Tudo Japan to find top talent from the country.
The announcement came as a welcome sign of UFC’s commitment to the Japanese market. Future VTJ events will play host to 135 (bantamweight) and 145 (featherweight) division tournaments, with the winner of each being signed to the UFC.
The series will have a tertiary broadcast in Japan which is expected to extend over 8 months and 30 episodes. While it is not a traditional TUF project – the fighters keep their own coaches and will not live together – the broadcast will tape and air backstories and beyond-event material.
VTJ currentl has two events scheduled, one this coming Saturday in Osaka, and another scheduled for October 4th in Tokyo. No word on whether or not the latter event will feature the UFC’s new co-promotion tournament.
UFC President Dana White announced late Wednesday night at a press conference in Japan that the company has signed a ground-breaking development deal with VTJ to promote and operate a new tournament series projected to premiere later this year.
The Vale Tudo Japan series began in 1994 and was run by SHOOTO, which now is the VTJ series, provided Japanese fighters the opportunity to compete against fighters from all over the world. The winner of the inaugural show, which is comparable to UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter competition, will earn a UFC contract.
“Much like The Ultimate Fighter, this series will continue to cultivate and popularize top talent for us in new markets. The round-robin tournament concept is going to make for amazing fights, with a lot at stake,” White said in a release. “Every fight will matter, every performance will count. I am so excited to be back in Japan.”
The tournament will feature fighters in the bantamweight (135 pounds) and featherweight (145 pounds) divisions and will air on Japanese terrestrial TV, which will potentially bring the action into the homes of millions of Japanese fans.
This new partnership will allow the UFC to find the best talent in Japan and allow those fighters to compete on the biggest stage in MMA in the Octagon.
More details will be released in September when the UFC comes to Japan with an event headlines by Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt. The full roster, local and international broadcast information and other details will be released at that time.
White finished up a tour across Asia which ended in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Dana White was asked about doing a PPV in Asia, but he said the major problem is time difference.