One of the biggest and most potentially exciting deals in MMA history is the recent pairing of ONE FC and DREAM. But what exactly does the JMMA community think about the deal? We’ve been hearing a lot from the international MMA media about the potential of this tie-up, so I figured I’d get the man-on-the-ground perspective to even things out.
I first approached a 29-year-old Jun Suzuki who is a self-confessed MMA fanatic. His answer seemed to set the tone for the Japanese perspective. " I've always liked this idea since I heard about this for the first time," he said. "I still believe the home of Martial arts, including MMA, is Asia. So DREAM/ONE FC co-working together to promote MMA in Asia is indeed welcomed. We’d better not only sit and watch Asian market eaten out by the Western force. We have to do something to respond and keep current with the appetite of the fans. I mean, everybody in this business must be very aware that the Asian market is really desirable."
We have definitely entered into an age of co-promotion and fighter-sharing has been a very welcome thing. ONE FC seems to have already adopted the legendary "We are all one" saying and really ran with it. Allowing co-promotion and fighter-exchanges from Korea to Singapore to Japan to everywhere in-between is a sure way of creating one of the strongest networks in MMA history.
JMMA reporter, Brittany Ann Decker had this to say: "ONE FC is a breath of fresh air for the Asian MMA scene. DREAM has been putting on countless epic fight cards for years, I can only imagine the possibilities a partnership can bring. With an array of fighters from Masakazu Imanari, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki to Eddie Ng and Melvin Manhoef, the fights are sure to impress! I hope this helps gets Asian fighters the attention they truly deserve."
One of the most common misconceptions around the world is that the sport of MMA is dying in Japan. While it's true that the industry is suffering due to the poor economy, horrible natural disasters and mass exodus of star fighters, JMMA is far from finished. In fact, Japan is producing a large number of extremely talented young fighters to go along with a pack of long time veterans who have found new life in their careers and some very dominate champions.
MMA fan, Jun Suzuki, said, "I think this is a win-win partnership as DREAM fighters need more exposure to off shore Japan, while ONE FC needs more legendary Japanese MMA fighters for their own branding. The big names from DREAM should be able to make a huge contribute to this."
Everyone loves when their countrymen do well in any sport against other country and Japan has experienced this many times throughout MMA history, from Kazushi Sakuraba systematically dismantling the Gracie family to Takanori Gomi putting the best lightweights from around the globe into comas.
But in MMA, Japan has had limited options in the last few years when it comes to testing their best fighters against the best from around the world. Many have left to fight in the USA where strict contracts and long trips to fight are commonplace. But one of the most exciting things about the ONE FC/DREAM partnership is the new world of match ups that are now possible. In MMA we have never been given more than the odd glimpse at the best fighters in Japan vs the best fighters the rest of Asia has to offer but now we will.
Even the fighters are fully aware of the positive implications that this tie-up has for them. Megumi Fuji, the current No.1 ranked female flyweight fighter told me, "I think this idea is good thing for us, because Japanese MMA has been under the weather for quite long. But this co-working could stimulate the Japanese scene. And fighters exchanging between two organizations should offer more exciting matches for fans from now on!"
The unmistakable voice of PRIDE ring announcer Lenne Hardt, and now the official voice of ONE FC as well, said, "I think it's an opportunity for various regions all over the world to showcase their signature styles and by doing so raise the bar for MMA overall. "