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Post-PRIDE (rip) Japanese MMA

Let's hope this is beginning of a resurgence for mixed martial arts in the Land of the Rising Sun:
TOKYO - The beginnings of a new promotional company, World Victory Road Inc. (WVR), and a sanctioning body for mixed martial arts, Japan Mixed Martial Arts Federation (JMM), were announced at a press conference Monday in Tokyo.

At the press conference, Naoya Kinoshita (CEO, Kinoshita Koumuten Inc.) was introduced as the chief executive officer for WVR. In addition, Tomiaki Fukuda (chairman, Japan Wrestling Federation & vice president of FILA) will serve as the president of the JMM and Takao Yasuda (CEO, Don Quijote Inc.) was installed as the vice president on the new sanctioning body.

The purpose of JMM is to improve the sport by overseeing the fighters, interacting with various MMA organizations, creating programs for developing fighters, educating referees, and maintaining rules for MMA. JMM will be working closely with a commission committee, which was also announced, to enforce the compliance and morals the group sets forth of MMA.

And then more from CEO Kinoshita:

Answering questions from the press, Mr. Kinoshita explained that this plan had been in the works for the last six months or so. It originally started when he and his partners found out that Pride World Wide was no longer able to hold shows.

He also pointed out that the first event is not yet scheduled, but will be announced soon. Even though no names were mentioned, the newly installed CEO stressed that the quality of fighters who will be participating in the events will be higher than what fans might expect.

There were comments about WVR's desire to cooperate with other MMA organizations, but details as to how and what they would do were not disclosed.

Regarding the employees who were dismissed by Pride World Wide, Mr. Kinoshita said he would welcome them if they were talented and willing to support WVR.

The post-PRIDE (rip) vacuum is opening the way for others to enter the MMA market in Japan and hopefully offer a product with international appeal. I'll also add here as an aside that while a post about the inner mechanics of the Japanese MMA scene isn't exactly going to set Technorati on fire, there is a deep neglect to take the Japanese MMA scene seriously beyond K-1 or PRIDE (rip). If you look at MMA rankings in lighter weight classes, there are several Americans in every weight class from lightweight on down who have no business being included in top 10 lists. I'm not suggesting it's discrimination against the Japanese per se; my argument is about those who compete in the Japanese MMA scene, not the Japanese people themselves (e.g. Antonio Carvalho). The fact of the matter is that it's intellectually lazy to ignore what's happening in Japan, if for no other reason than to understand more about the American MMA scene as well as to familiarize yourself with mega-talented Japanese fighters (even if they are competing at 123lbs.). So do yourself a favor and start paying attention to what they're doing. MMA is more than the North America and it's more than the UFC.

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