There was a time when Japanese MMA ruled the world. In 2002 over 90,000 people packed into the Tokyo Stadium to see the likes of Royce Gracie, Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Crocop do battle at Pride 'Shockwave'.
In recent years Japanese MMA has been in almost constan decline with Pride purchased by the UFC and disbanded while the fighters who first made a name for themselves fighting in Japan have almost all moved West to be snapped up by eager American promotions.
Dream still hold regular events in Japan but this promotion has chosen to follow the UFC model, adopting unified rules, a cage and shorter rounds. In the glory days of Japanese MMA the rules were much more relaxed and this is one of the reasons why MMA fans have such fond memories of the Pride era.
All the talk in the Asian MMA world recently has been of One Fighting Championship, a brand new promotion in Singapore which has plans to put on shows in Tokyo and will feature some former Pride fighters and, more importantly for fight fans, many of the Pride rules.
One Fighting Championship CEO / Owner Victor Cui believest that the rules, which allow stomps and kicks to a grounded opponent, will make for much more entertaining, fan friendly fights,
"I just want to put on exciting fights that MMA fans want to see. I want KOs and submissions. I want real action. I want to see the purity of MMA, with stomps and soccer kicks and elbows.”
As well as featuring many of the rules from Pride One Fighting Championship's first show, which takes place at the 12,000 capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium on September 3rd, will also showcase a number of mixed martial artists who made their reputation fighting in Japan.
Ole Laursen will be up against fellow Filipino Eduard Folayang in the main event. Laursen's first two fights were both in Tokyo in 2004, against Japanese MMA legends Genki Sudo and Caol Uno. The co-main event features two faces who will be all too familiar to MMA fans in Japan. Phil Baroni enjoyed an extremely successful spell in Pride, winning four out of six fights while Yoshiyuki Yoshida is one of very few Japanese fighters to have made it into the UFC.
Baroni is taking on Yoshida in an eagerly awaited welterweight bout which many feel will be the fight of the night. Baroni holds a win over Ikuhisa Minowa with stomps at Pride Bushido 7, this would be illegal under the unified rules but will be 100% legal at One Fighting Championship. Yoshida, who is from Tokyo, is a fourth degree black belt Judoka and Cage Force Tournament champion and with both men coming off recent wins this promises to be a truly explosive contest.
No Japanese MMA show would be complete without a Gracie on the card. Rickson, Renzo and Royce all forged legendary reputations fighting in Japan and the new generation of Gracies will be represented at One Fighting Championship in the shape of Gregor Gracie. He has a 5-1 professional record and will be fighting in Asia for the very first time.
The show will be being broadcast to 24 countries across Asia by ESPN Star Sports and is also being shown on domestic TV in Singapore giving it a wider viewing audience than Pride ever had. It is also being streamed live on the internet by leading MMA website Sherdog meaning that people all over Japan will be watching Yoshida fight.
While all over the world MMA promotions are sticking to the same formula One Fighting Championship is daring to be different by using the set of rules which once made Pride so popular. The first Tokyo show is not scheduled to take place until 2012 but the spirit of Japanese MMA will be alive and well in Singapore on September 3rd.