Sakakibara Wants RIZIN, UFC, ONE And Bellator To Come Together
The world of sport has come to a screeching halt in the last couple of months, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As well as every MMA promotion and sporting organisation around the world, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan has also been postponed and put back to the summer of 2021.
RIZIN FF CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara however, has an idea to put on his own martial arts Olympics this summer instead. And he wants to invite the UFC, ONE Championship and Bellator.
Speaking to Gong Magazine (as transcribed by Kimura), Sakakibara opened up on his plans for a ‘Martial Arts Olympics’.
“As a federation, RIZIN is calling for the co-operation of all the promotions to come together to make a stack of dream matchups. Of course, Scott Coker from Bellator is in, and I’d like to put it to the UFC and others too. This would be an excellent time to bring Conor McGregor in. ONE Championship would also be great to have on board, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that as if we’re above them. In 2002 Dynamite! happened with the joint effort of K-1, Pride, and Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye. That was nearly 20 years ago so we’re proposing a ‘Midsummer Martial Arts Festival’ with everyone involved.”
The coronavirus has of course had an impact of every MMA promotion and Sakakibara believes that now is the right time for everyone to come together and collaborate.
“I won’t know until I ask, but I can’t be shy about it. We haven’t faced these circumstances before, so now I think it’s the right time to take action together but to be honest, the specifics of that are yet to come. Of course, assuming the coronavirus situation eases off, we want to first do one show this summer. If the new Olympic Stadium is not being used, it would be a waste, so we feel it would be right to do a ‘Martial Arts Olympics’ in Japan.
“The Saitama Super Arena, Yoyogi Stadium and the new Ariake Arena will be unused this summer so we’d like to make good use of them. The Tokyo Olympics postponement, may give us the opportunity to give the martial arts world a dream show. It really doesn’t even have to be called a RIZIN event. Give it a one-off title, set up various dream matches, and make it a reality. K-1, Rise, Shoot Boxing, and other promotions can come together and be united as one. I feel this is the right timing. It’s a time to put aside selfishness and pride, and do something now.”
Sakakibara also believes that such an event would be great motivation for fighters right now, who are unable to fight and make a living.
“I don’t want the recent press conference announcement of cancellations to end on a negative note. I don’t want the fans to think the lights have gone out, so we’re going to work together. We have common goals, so I’ve made a proposal.
“The next three or four months will see things shaping up. An event would give them the fighters motivation for the summer. It would give them goals even with the gyms empty right now. Their bodies are their income, so they can’t rest. If that doesn’t happen, autumn, and if that doesn’t happen, New Year’s Eve. That all depends on the coronavirus situation, so we have to be flexible, but first of all I’m suggesting three to four months from now.”
While Sakakibara would love to hold his ‘Martial Arts Olympics’ in three or four months, he’s aware that the coronavirus situation may not have improved by then. In which case, it would place RIZIN in a financially difficult position.
“We’re doing our best to set things up in the next three months but if the situation continues longer we won’t be able to survive. Without any support from the government it may be necessary to go to crowd funding and get help from all the fans who have a shared interest. Fans who love martial arts might be able to help us survive this tough time and with the right timing we can do our best to give back to the fans with a Martial Arts Midsummer Festival.”
If some reports are correct, then Sakakibara may have to rely on the help of RIZIN’s fans to help them through these unprecedented times. Progress Oncologist and Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel, who is the brother of Endeavor co-CEO and UFC owner Ari Emanuel, earlier this week told the New York Times that we may have to wait until autumn of 2021 before we see large gatherings, such as MMA events, again.
“Larger gatherings, conferences, concerts, sporting events, when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”
Earlier today, UFC president Dana White announced that he plans to have the UFC back up and running by May 9th.
What do you think of Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s idea of a ‘Martial Arts Olympics’?