Lights, Gamera, Action.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has further extended its reach into the Land of the Rising Sun, today announcing partnerships with TV Bank Corp. for an official UFC mobile site across all three major Japanese cellular networks, as well as an agreement with Hikari TV to air delayed live and archived UFC and PRIDE bouts.
From Mark Fischer, UFC Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Asia:
"There has never been a better time to be a UFC fan in Japan. Along with our existing partnership with WOWOW, the two deals announced continue to expand our media partnerships and consumer reach. Furthermore, the UFC is clearly building momentum in Japan toward finally bringing a live UFC event here for the first time in over a decade."
Could a live event be on tap for 2011?
The promotion began working toward a better brand recognition overseas when it crept into the Japanese market back in 2009, partnering with Japan's number one social networking and blog site, Ameba Blog, to create UFC/WEC fighter blog pages.
Later that year, Zuffa made its long-anticipated return to Japanese television with UFC 89: "Bisping vs. Leben" after locking up a new, two-year contract with WOWOW, Japan's premiere commercial satellite television broadcaster since 1991.
WOWOW was home to more than 50 UFC shows from 2001 to 2007 and boasts a viewership of more than 2.4 million.
While on the surface a UFC presence may appear detrimental to struggling promotions like DREAM and Sengoku, it could actually be of benefit if the UFC events are able to stimulate a renewed interest in Japanese mixed martial arts.
If not, they can join the tombstones in Dana White's office and be preserved in the Zuffa tape library.