The heyday of MMA in Japan unquestionably took place when PRIDE was at its peak. The promotion employed some of the best fighters in the world, but PRIDE CEO Nobiyuki Sakakibara understood that big personalities were just as important to the Japanese fans. Guys like Rampage Jackson and Wandelei Silva were huge draws, for example.
So when it comes to the current crop of fighters, Sakakibara, who now heads up RIZIN, pointed at the two biggest stars of the moment as examples of who would be a superstar in Japan - Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey (via MMA Fighting):
"He would do fantastic," Sakakibara said through an interpreter. "The fans would go crazy over him."
"Their style, Conor and Ronda, given the weight class and divisions of who they are, being able to make such a huge success financially, that has changed history within the fight game," Sakakibara said.
RIZIN recently ran their third event, which featured the likes of Daron Cruickshank, Gabi Garcia, and the legendary Axe Murderer himself, Wanderlei Silva, competing in a weird tag team grappling match.