The UFC yesterday confirmed they will be heading to Japan this fall, as UFC Fight Night 52 was announced to take place September 20 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, and a number of fighters were confirmed to fight on the card. Already announced, but confirmed again yesterday, was a five-round main event heavyweight attraction between Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. Hunt, who was one a huge star in Japan when he fought in PRIDE, is coming off the 2013 Fight of the Year against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva while Nelson is coming off a knockout win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. This is an excellent heavyweight matchup between two of the toughest and heaviest hitters in the business and should be one of the best fights of 2014 when it goes down. Also confirmed was the previously-announced women’s bantamweight fight between Rin Nakai and Miesha Tate. This should also be a very exciting bout between two of the strongest women in the 135lb division and it will likely serve as the evening’s co-main event, depending of course on what other bouts are announced for the card between now and September. In addition to those fights, a flyweight tilt between Chris Cariaso and Kyogi Horiguchi was added to the card. This fight was supposed to happen back at UFC 169 before Horiguchi pulled out with an injury, but it’s better late than never that it’s happening now and it should be an awesome flyweight fight when it goes down. Look for a close line for this matchup, with a slight lean towards the young hotshot prospect Horiguchi due to the hype factor. As well, the UFC announced that the following Japanese superstars will also have fights on the card: Yoshihiro Akiyama, KID Yamamoto, and Takanori Gomi. Both Akiyama and Yamamoto haven’t fought in over two years since UFC 144, while Gomi is coming off a Fight of the Night victory over Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 172. All three fighters will likely get favorable matchups as the UFC will no doubt want each of them to win their bouts and continue to be draws in Japan. Overall I expect the UFC’s return to Japan to be excellent and for it to be in the vein of UFC 144 and UFC on FUEL TV 10, which were two of the most exciting cards of the last few years in MMA. And if the card does indeed turn out to be anything like those two, then the fans will be happy, and at the end of the day that’s all the matters to the UFC.
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