Massive Earthquake Puts Japanese MMA on Hold

By Jordan Breen Mar 11, 2011
Following a massive earthquake, MMA is on hold in Japan. | Associated Press

Japan’s moment of crisis has predictably put prizefighting on the backburner.

Multiple major Japanese promotions were scheduled to hold events this weekend. Women’s promotion Jewels was scheduled to run Friday afternoon at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo, while leading Shooto promoter Sustain was to stage “Shootor’s Legacy 2” at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on Saturday afternoon. Pancrase was set to continue its 2011 “Impressive Tour” at Azalea Taisho Hall in Osaka on Sunday. All three events have temporarily had the brakes put on them.

On Friday morning, following the 8.9 megathrust earthquake that struck Sendai, Jewels parent company Marvelous Japan issued a short statement and announced its event had been canceled. As of yet, there has been no word on rescheduling the Jewels “12th Ring” card, which was to be headlined by Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Jessica Aguilar battling 115-pound unbeaten Jewels champion Ayaka Hamasaki.

Shortly after the Jewels announcement, Sustain released an official statement announcing the postponement of its March 12 “Shootor’s Legacy 2” card.

Sustain cited the structural damage to Korakuen Hall -- dubbed Japan's “Mecca of prizefighting” -- as the main catalyst in the postponement. Shooto officials confirmed to that Sustain was already looking to re-schedule the event rather than cancel it.

“Shootor’s Legacy 2” was originally intended to be headlined by a Shooto 115-pound world title fight between champion Rambaa Somdet and challenger Junji Ito. However, Somdet suffered a foot injury that postponed the bout until April 29. A flyweight contest between Yuki Shojo and Noboru Tahara was to take its place.

Sunday was set to be a busy day for Japanese MMA, with Pancrase’s Osaka card, Deep running a card in Tokyo’s Shibuya district and Nagoya-based promotion Heat running at Zepp Nagoya. Pancrase has postponed its Sunday effort indefinitely, while Deep and Heat have yet to offer comment. It is expected that they will offer official statements by Saturday morning.

The earthquake, already called the “Tohoku Region Pacific Ocean Earthquake” by the Japanese media, is believed to be the largest earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history and the fifth largest in the world since 1900. More than 200 have already been found dead, with another 400-plus reported as missing across six prefectures.

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