UFC Plans to Go to Japan and Sweden Before the Close of 2011

By John Morgan

LAS VEGAS – The Ultimate Fighting Championship will blaze a new international trail in 2011, as well as revisiting a long-lost friend. Following Saturday night’s successful UFC 126 event in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White confirmed that the UFC is planning on hosting live events in both Sweden and Japan before the end of the calendar year.

The UFC has never held an event in Sweden, while the company hasn’t visited Japan since December 2000. White revealed the plans for Sweden earlier this week in an interview with Swedish MMA news website MMANytt.se, and he confirmed the UFC’s intentions with MMAjunkie.com. While the news will certainly be well-received by Swedish fans, it was unquestionably less shocking that White’s revelation that a Japanese event would likely take place before the end of the year.

“We think we’re going to get it done,” White said. “Everything that needs to happen to go to Japan has fallen into place so far, so it’s looking good. It’s on our calendar this year.”

The UFC hosted four events in Japan between 1997 and 2000, but has not held a fight card in the country since UFC 29. In January, Zuffa Asia vice president Mark Fischer outlined to Japanese media the UFC’s plan for the country, but most MMA observers felt a live event in Japan was still far-fetched.

White said the situation in Japan changed quickly, similarly to the fast turnaround that took place in Toronto, which rapidly approved legislation of the sport in 2010 following years of resistance.

“It really turned around quick,” White said. “It’s like Toronto. It opened up like that. New York isn’t. You just never know.”

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