TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: (L-R) Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, Riki Fukuda, Takanori Gomi, Yushin Okami, Head of UFC Asia Marc Fischer, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Michihiro Omigawa, Hatsu Hioki and Takeya Mizugaki attend the UFC press conference at Shinjuku Wald 9 on September 6, 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
When the UFC held its February 26th PPV in Saitama, Japan, it marked their first card in the country since UFC 29 in 2001. It looks like Japan will not have to wait another 11 years for their next card, but merely 13 months. UFC officials reportedly are aiming for a March 3rd card, again at the Saitama Super Arena, according to MMA Weekly:
It appears the UFC is ready to return, already planning for another date at the Saitama Super Arena in 2013, according to NikkanSports.com.
MMAWeekly.com sources indicate that March 3 is the date that officials are circling on the calendar.
UFC 144 was headlined by Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson for the UFC Lightweight Championship, which the challenger Henderson won in a thrilling close unanimous decision. The card was also notable for it's four-hour PPV and seven fight main card.
This appears to be a continuation of the UFC's drive to expand their presence in the Eastern Asia and Australian markets, after their effective dormancy for the last decade or so. Since 2010, the UFC has done 3 shows in Australia (PPVs 110, 127, and FX 2), and the aforementioned UFC 144 in Saitama. If you add the planned Japan event, UFC on FUEL TV 6 in Macau this November, and The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes -- which will see taping for the show and the live season finale done in Australia -- that makes for 7 cards in that region by the first quarter of 2013. Compare that to just 4 cards in Europe in the same time span, with the 4th coming on September 29th, UFC on FUEL TV 5 in Nottingham, England.