Last month, the MMA promotion Dream announced plans for a New Year’s Eve show. The news was unexpected given that the promotion was all but dead for the year before the announcement. Now, it appears that the Dream still lives on in Japan, but with a new partner and a future that is uncertain past this upcoming show.

Dream’s revival is due to a new partnership with kickboxing promotion Glory. Glory is owned by Glory Sports International (GSI), which operates MMA and kickboxing events in Europe and Asia. Just yesterday, Glory held its third event, Glory 3 Rome – Final 8, from Rome, Italy, featuring a tournament of top-ranked lightweight kickboxers.

Even with the backing of Glory, it’s hard to say that Dream will live on as it once did. Glory is not purchasing Dream, only funding this one event (though Glory did announce its intent to host 10 events in Japan in 2013). Glory would need a decent return on its money and have to sign contracts with a stable of fighters to keep the promotion running. For now, Glory is mainly focused on kickboxing, but continued success in MMA ventures could open the door for the organization to be able to consistently invest in a brand like Dream.

Before Glory came into the picture to resurrect the promotion, Dream was officially declared dead by many in 2011 under parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG). Dream failed to produce any further shows in 2012 and FEG’s declaration of bankruptcy appeared to be the end of Dream.

Glory is a relatively new promotional wing in the Golden Glory management company. It was created in response to issues stemming from fighter contracts with K-1. Golden Glory has been to court with FEG in the past, claiming that its fighters were not receiving pay that they were promised. Now, Glory will be the one in the position to pay the fighters, and FEG is not involved whatsoever with the New Year’s Eve show.

Japan has had a shady past when it comes to promotional funding and fighters receiving pay. Golden Glory has experienced it firsthand, and perhaps those experiences will lend to a better future for combat sports in Japan now that the Dutch organizationis involved in promoting bigger events.

For now, Glory is simply cashing in on the popularity of the year-end MMA events held in the Saitama Super Arena, a tradition that dates back to the days of Pride FC and continued through Pride’s successors after Zuffa purchased Pride in 2007, ending Japan’s biggest and best MMA promotion. Former Pride executives created their own  New Year’s Eve event that year, called Yarennoka!, that featured former Pride stars and was meant to be a farewell send-off for the promotion, but its success led to the formation of Dream.

Since 2008, Dream has upheld the tradition of the New Year’s Eve MMA events hosted from the Saitama Super Arena. The Glory partnership is keeping that custom alive and it proves that high-level MMA in Japan retains enough interest from investors to possibly thrive again. The success of this year-end show can only help the chances for new life for the promotion. For now, that remains to be seen. This event is just a one-off for Glory with ambiguous notions for the future of Dream as an active promotion.

The official fight card hasn’t been announced, but we know that notable Japanese fighters such as Hiroyuki Takaya, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Satoru Kitaoka are attached to the event. The coming month should see more fighters announced for what should be a “super” card.

Fans of Pride and Dream should be more than happy with the surprise resurrection of the Dream year-end show, but might be disappointed if they expect anything more. Officials from the October press conference expressed a desire to host more shows, but official plans are scarce past the planned New Year’s event.

High-level MMA in Japan has been on rocky ground the last several years, but Glory might be the ones to lead it back to success after the failure of FEG. It is surprising, but good news for the future of Japanese MMA, even if we don’t have much more to go on past this show.

Photo: Shinya Aoki, Dream champion and one of its most well-known fighters (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.