When the UFC decided to host an event in Canada, the brass in Las Vegas knew what they were doing. Canadians flocked to the arena to support their native fighters and even those that weren’t native to the country. Record-breaking crowds were announced with several shows having since slated to take place in the Great White North. The UFC has also added trips to Brazil, England, Abu Dhabi, and, upcoming, Sweden, to its agenda. However, no place has been as highly sought after as Japan.
Tonight, the UFC returns to Land of the Rising Sun for the first time since UFC 29, as UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson takes place from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
UFC President Dana White has announced the event is “sold-out” in UFC terms with approximately 20,000 tickets going out, expressing a return trip to the region is all but guaranteed for next year.
Now, with this latest achievement placed on his list of ever-growing accomplishments, White can pat himself on the back – again.
With Frankie Edgar set to defend his UFC lightweight title against Benson Henderson, ex-UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson returning to his old stomping grounds to face Ryan Bader, and several Japanese fighters appearing on the card, you better believe that the crowd will be hot from the opening bell.
The UFC continues to elevate itself higher and higher in the world of professional sports, and this latest adventure to the place many feel MMA was born, is another step in the right direction.
Yes, the old PRIDE rules are shelved and a cage – or Octagon as the case may be – is now the norm, but one day we will look back on UFC 144 as the day mainstream MMA returned to its home.
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