The UFC’s approach to Japan has become increasingly aggressive, and the company has taken yet another, giant, aggressive step in making the country a regular destination.
UFC will be starting a partnership with Vale Tudo Japan, which formerly was known as the Shooto promotion. Shooto was founded by professional wrestling legend Tiger Mask in 1985, long before the MMA scene exploded in America in the 1990s.
The two companies will promote a tournament, which will feature featherweights and bantamweights.
“It’ll be eight guys per weight class,” said UFC President Dana White, during a press tour in Asia. “There will be 30 episodes on television, three fights on each show, over eight months.”
The tournaments will be round robin style, with all eight competitors taking on the other seven. The fighter at the end of the tournament will receive a UFC contract.
“Much like The Ultimate Fighter, this series will continue to cultivate and popularize top talent for us in new markets,” White said. “The round-robin tournament concept is going to make for amazing fights, with a lot at stake. Every fight will matter, every performance will count.”
This will vary from the company’s standard Ultimate Fighter series, however, as the competitors won’t live in a house or train under assigned UFC fighters. Instead, the TV series chronicling the fighters will be a documentary-style program. The television show, UFC’s first regular TV deal in Japan, is expected to start airing in December, but more details will be released at UFC’s planned show in Japan in September.