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Asian MMA Update: DREAM Reportedly Ceases Operations, Baroni Out Of ONE FC 4, Pancrase Sold

DREAM has reportedly ceased its day-to-day operations
DREAM has reportedly ceased its day-to-day operations

There are lots of news coming out of the Asian MMA scene, so let's get right to it.

  • The biggest news in the region is regarding the demise of Japanese promotion, DREAM. The Mixed Martial Arts scene in the country hasn't been good recently, but the promotion was still set on having Shinya Aoki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba to headline an event. Unfortunately, after plans of the mid-year show faltered, their future looked even more bleak.

    As first reported by MMA-Japan, and confirmed by other sites, DREAM has ceased its day-to-day operations and running the promotion "is no longer a going concern".
  • Here's MMAWeekly's report which gave more details on the final events which led to their situation:

Dream had fallen on hard times over the past few years with attendance down and TV deals falling to the wayside. About the only viable product left was the annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza’s that had become a staple of the holiday in Japan.

Real Entertainment had wanted to continue with that tradition, but needed Saitama Super Arena to make it viable. Saitama, however, wanted Dream to do a two-event deal, the first event being the July show. When Dream couldn’t pull off a July event, Saitama backed out and will instead give the New Year’s Eve slot to someone else.

Without Saitama Super Arena on board, Dream really doesn’t have any viable options left for New Year’s Eve, which really was a last gasp for survival in the first place.

There are much more big news on DREAM, Pancase and ONE FC after the jump. Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena

  • As yet another promotion starts to close its doors, options for top level Japanese fighters are dwindling in the country. Zuffa and Bellator will likely be interested as well, but ONE Fighting Championship, which already shared fighters with DREAM as part of their network, is already working to pick up majority of the top talent left on their roster.
  • Aside from trying to acquire those top fighters, another thing which has been discussed this past weekend during an "Asian MMA Summit", was the prospect of ONE FC hosting a show in the Saitama Super Arena. Plans are obviously still in the preliminary stages, but the Singapore-based promotion is wisely looking to take advantage of that gap left in Japan, which still has a healthy base of hardcore MMA fans.
  • Speaking of ONE FC, they're hosting a show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 23, and there have been a few updates to the card.
  • 11796_412662605423667_2014206968_n_medium This past weekend, Phil Baroni competed at Ring Of Fire in his first bout since having surgery on his shoulder. He took on a hometown favorite in Chris Holland, which saw the NYBA succumb in the 2nd stanza, after starting off with a dominant first round.

    Shortly after the fight, sources close to the situation have informed that Baroni has been pulled from the upcoming ONE FC card. The reason for this, being that his supposed opponent, Roger Huerta, was allegedly unhappy about the loss and wasn't interested in competing against Baroni anymore.

    The promotion is now searching for an appropriate replacement opponent for Huerta, who is still likely to stay at welterweight for this bout. Baroni is looking to be slotted for their next event in the Philippines this September.
  • Also news for the ONE FC 4 card, Mitch Chilson, one of the more popular figures from Evolve MMA, finally has an opponent. He will be taking on 'Pyro' AJ Vaa (or AJ Lias Mansor) in hostile territory as the Malaysian will have thousands of hometown fans cheering him on.
  • Not really news, but speaking of the Kuala Lumpur event, fans in the arena will have a chance to win a KTM Duke 200, which will be raffled that night.
  • More big changes from the Japanese MMA scene, former Pro Wrestling group, "SMASH" has purchased Pancrase. They hosted a press conference this weekend announcing that they have picked up the management reigns of the long running Japanese promotion. Former owner, Don Quijote will remain as their major sponsor.
  • 220px-pancrase_hybrid_wrestling_logo_medium With a gap left in Japan, it is also interesting to note that big goals were also announced following the Pancrase takeover. Here's Sherdog's report on their plans:
    The new Pancrase regime also announced lofty plans to evolve the promotion toward a "global standard" while promoting its athletes toward the international stage. These plans include the creation of an in-house agency to manage Pancrase fighters and their sponsorships abroad, the creation of a Pancrase USA infrastructure to facilitate stateside travel and accommodation for fighters, and an outreach program to promote cooperation between Pancrase and MMA gyms outside of Japan.

    Last but not least, Pancrase under Smash's leadership will also see the introduction of cage events--like Deep and Dream, before it. According to Sakai, Pancrase will attempt three cage shows in 2013 with the aim of familiarizing Pancrasists with the fighting surface.