Mailman Journal: UFC Japan
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
The Mailman UFC team attended their third UFC Asia event with Li Jingliang flying China’s flag against a stacked Japanese card in Tokyo. Roy Nelson faced Josh Barnett in the main-card event, but we were there to promote the Leech’s fight against an experienced Japanese fighter.
Mike G stayed in the Mailman office to lead Team Shanghai and dominate social content, as we set off to Tokyo on Wednesday morning and prepare for the busy Fight Week schedule. We had scheduled interviews with several of the fighters on Thursday morning, meeting Roy Nelson and Kyoji Horiguchi, as well as Jingliang’s opponent Keita Nakamura who was far from receptive of the Chinese entourage. Up next came our good friend Jingliang, bouncing into the room confidently as we spent the next hour discussing with him and his team how training had gone, as well as their predictions fight, KO was the unanimous decision.
Friday was the Ultimate Media Day, our chance to meet the other fighters during the media scrums. Sam, after a slow start to his interviewing career has become a seasoned-pro, and quickly got into his rhythm interviewing the co-main event fighters. The Mailman team also managed to find their way on to UFC’s official Twitter and Instagram account, with the back of Sam’s head finally getting the fame it deserves. Mike G was meanwhile supporting with all of the video content and making sure the fans back in China weren’t missing out with all going on in Japan. We had planned to spend the afternoon with the three guest fighters, however, they were more interested in the sumo-wrestling contest going on, so we only had time to with Demetrious Johnson, the current UFC flyweight champion on another trip to Asia.
Saturday was the weigh-ins at the Saitama Arena with Sam and Cate heading off early to set-up (having not missed their alarm). The event passed by very quickly with all fighters making weight apart from Chico Camus, who despite stripping down completely, still had to find .5lbs to lose. After the team spent the rest of the day editing the video content that we’d captured, we headed to Shibuya for an evening out. Shibuya is home to Japan’s famous 5-way pedestrian crossings, so we spent a lot of time here perfecting our selfie skills like classic tourists. We then met up with the rest of the UFC China team for drinks and Teppanyaki, as well as plenty of beers and sake.
Fight Night Morning started very early, we were on the 6am bus to Saitama arena where we’d be covering the event live until about 5pm. We got set up in the Media Room where Sam worked solidly for the next 5 hours, as the rest of us headed into the arena to sit ‘cage side’ for Jingliang’s fight in the prelims. The first round passed with most of the time spent on the ground, but Jingliang found his rhythm in the second opening up Nakamura’s face with a series of jabs and combinations. However, as the fight entered the third round, Jingliang was caught by the experience fighter who managed to choke him out, ending the fight by submission. Jingliang never tapped out, falling unconscious like a true warrior. Our team was gutted by his loss, but managed to enjoy the rest of the card as Barnett took Nelson to the full 5 rounds and win by decision in the main event.
Despite Jingliang’s loss, the trip was another massive success for UFC China. Spending time with the global UFC team face-to-face was incredibly valuable and Mike G back in Shanghai made sure that our social channels filled their boots with awesome content, becoming the #1 trending sports hashtag. UFC returns to Asia on November 28th for Fight Night South Korea, and we’re already looking forward to promoting the event and our two Chinese fighters.