When it comes to MMA, the casual fan sees it as UFC. For the last six years, the UFC has dominated the MMA world and put itself as the No. 1 promotion in the sport. While 90 percent of fans are watching on Saturday nights when the UFC puts on its show, there is a small percentage of people that stay up from about 2 a.m. until about 6 to 7 a.m. to catch a Japanese event.
Whether the event was Pride, K-1, Yarennoka, DEEP, Shooto, Pancrase, Sengoku or Dream (I've left out One FC until more events are produced), these fans are loyal and will not miss an event.
The year-end show has been a special tradition in the Japanese MMA culture for many years. Fans were treated to legendary fights, whether it was MMA or kickboxing, or whether it was a title fight or a freak show fight.
No matter what, you are always treated to a wonderful show, and something special happens every year.
This year will be no different. After the year end event was in question and many feared it would not take place, it was announced that the event will include bouts that encompass the Dream, K-1 and K-1 Max banners. The event will be titled Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011.
This year, two men will put friendship aside and compete for the Dream Lightweight Championship.
Satoru Kitaoka is the greatest fighter in the world that most fans have never heard of. He holds wins over Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, Kurt Pellegrino, Takanori Gomi and Kazunori Yokota. He is known as the "Catch Wrestling Koala Bear" and is one of the greatest grapplers to have ever come out of Japan.
His opponent, Shinya Aoki, is more known by fans in the United States after a couple of fights in Strikeforce. He is also a grappling ace and most recently has been training with Evolve MMA in Singapore working heavily on his stand up. From what has been shown to the public, it is improving tons.
Kitaoka and Aoki are training partners and know each other's game very well. This fight will be a fight for pride and honor, displaying some amazing skills and has all of the potential to be one of the greatest fights to have ever taken place at a year-end event.
This is the fight in which you truly do not care who wins because, at the end of the day, it is the fans that win.
One thing that this fight and event will definitely prove is that JMMA is far from dead and that bigger things are coming.
Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011 Official fight card
DREAM Lightweight Championship bout: Shinya Aoki (c) vs. Satoru Kitaoka
DREAM Featherweight Championship bout: Hiroyuki Takaya (c) vs. Takeshi Inoue
Featherweight bout: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
Welterweight bout: Hayato Sakurai vs. Ryo Chonan
Heavyweight bout: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Satoshi Ishii
Heavyweight bout: Tim Sylvia vs. Brett Rogers
Women's bout: Megumi Fujii vs. Karla Benitez
Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal bout: Masakazu Imanari vs. Antonio Banuelos
Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal bout: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques
Bantamweight Tournament Reserve bout: Hideo Tokoro vs. Yusup Saadulaev
Bantamweight Tournament Final: Winner of Imanari/Banuelos vs. Winner of Fernandes/Marques