Behind The Scenes: The Japan Issue

February 16, 2012

Nick Peet, Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy

Following the success of our Brazil Issue last year, which was one of the top selling Fighters Only editions of all time, it was only natural we would counterstrike early 2012 with a Japan version in the run up to the UFC’s return to the Land of the Rising Sun.

In this issue you’ll find interviews with some of the biggest stars in Japanese mixed martial arts. Some you will undoubtedly have heard of, and hopefully one or two you haven’t. We also delve into the history of the sport in Japan – which actually pre-dates anything staged in South America – taking a trip back in time with some of the figures who were there when mixed martial arts was truly first born.

And who better to feature as our cover star for such an auspicious issue than the former Pride superstar himself, Quinton Jackson? The epitome of all that was great about that generation of mixed martial artist, his return will be celebrated from every rooftop in Tokyo when he steps into the Octagon at UFC 144 on February 26th.

When FO spoke with ‘Rampage’ about starring on the cover of this issue, his usual pensive guard slipped dramatically. With children of Japanese-American decent, he holds a special affinity with Japan and his return to action there this month marks a landmark in his own life and career. Rampage knows perhaps more than anyone that his fighting life is drawing to a close, and in this issue he opens up about what the immediate future holds for him.

The often cantankerous former UFC light heavyweight champion gushes about his love for Japan, and the Japanese fans, before considering the next step in his career. He still harbours dreams of regaining the title he once held, while wholly endorsing the reign of current UFC champion Jon Jones. And he concedes that his own time inside of the Octagon is coming to an end… before, typically, promising there’s plenty of fight in this old dog yet.

And seeing as this is Fighters Only magazine, and pushing boundaries is our prerequisite a, we took our Rampage Jackson shoot and made something a bit special for this month’s cover. Quinton actually took his nickname from the arcade game Rampage, where a werewolf and three other monsters smash entire cities to rubble. So we let loose MMA’s own Rampage in Tokyo, the host city of UFC 144.

Japan card headliner Ben Henderson is also out to leave his mark in Japan. ‘Bendo’ headlines the event, challenging Frank Edgar for the UFC lightweight title, and despite this being his first fight outside North America he’s planning on using his comic book superhero fighting style to defeat a champion who has so far brushed aside all worthy challenges.

Local star Takeya Mizugaki also opened the doors to his camp to FO this month, providing a true insight into what this card represents to the Japanese fighters.

And keep an eye out for all of the other heroes of Eastern MMA inside, like Yoshihiro Akiyama, ‘King Mo’ and Kyoji Horiguchi… We even check back on a relative who’s who of the lost Pride FC generation in Lowdown, and star referee Marc Goddard, our resident third man, discusses how the rules of MMA have changed in the 10 years since the UFC last touched down in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Aside from all the superb Japan-themed content, we also have all the usual news, reviews and previews you have come to expect – plus an exclusive chat with new Blackzilians team captain and leading light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans to boot.

We turn the spotlight onto the mouth-watering flyweight tournament set for the UFC on the FX card in Sydney, Australia on March 3rd, and we also chat with anybody and everybody about the retirement of Brock Lesnar and what impact – if any – his career has had on the Octagon.

Still not enough? Okay, how about a guerrilla jiu-jitsu masterclass from grappling god Dave Camarillo, expert tips on how to fight like Chael Sonnen, professional advice on building your cardio, conditioning and psychological mind-state to fight at the highest level. And all the very latest must-have apparel to hit the cage, plus a beautiful blonde babe to boot! Now that is what a proper fight magazine is all about.

This issue is on sale now. Enjoy,

Nick Peet, Editor

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