Last Sunday, the PRIDE Final Conflict made history in presenting some of the best fighters in the world who competed in one night in order to answer the question who are the best heavyweight and middleweight fighters in the world today. In the aftermath of that show, which conferred upon Mauricio Rua and Fedor Emelianeko the presumptive title of best fighters in their respective weight classes, the Akira Maeda and K-1 cooperative “Hero’s promotion” will present an event that will rival it in prominence and profitability this coming Wednesday from Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo, Japan.
While the promotion has almost no exposure in the United States, their popularity has surged in Japan after only two shows, largely driven by the popularity of Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, the 28-year-old sensation who in July was largely responsible for Hero’s 2 drawing an overwhelming 16.6 rating on TV beating a Yomiuri Giants vs. Chunichi Dragons baseball game, most recent K-1 ratings, and all but a few of PRIDE’s most successful shows. The event, which does not challenge PRIDE for quality, will offer a native superstar in Yamamoto and the finals of the promotion’s 154-pound tournament.
The final ratings for both shows will demonstrate the relative value of the largely foreign stars in PRIDE and Yamamoto.
Celebrity aside, Yamamoto will face an uphill climb to success in the tournament, which began at July’s tournament. At 141 pounds, he will be among the lightest competitors in a tournament that also includes Genki Sudo, Kazuyuki Miyata, Remigijus Morkevicius, Hiroyki Takaya, Royler Gracie, Caol Uno, and Hideo Tokoro.
In the quarterfinals, Yamamoto is matched against Gracie. The winner of that contest will face the winner of a match between Caol Uno, who had a match-of-the-year level contest with Joachim Hansen at the first Hero’s show in March, and Hideo Tokoro. Also in the semifinals, the winners of Sudo vs. Miyata and Morkevicius vs. Takaya will face each other.
In other matches Hermes Franca faces Koutetsu Boku, Sam Greco faces Shungo Oyama, Akira Kikuchi faces Kiuma Kunioku, and Yoshihiro Nakao faces Fai Falamoe.
RATINGS NOTES: Week two of the Ultimate Fighter show drew a 1.76 rating and 2.24 million viewers. It was an increase from the previous week, but nothing else was spectacular about it, except that it did amazing numbers (3.71, which is around what WWE RAW does) in males 25-34…. PRIDE’s debut on the Fox Sports Network on 8/21 drew a 0.50 rating or 392,000 households but viewer numbers were not released…. These numbers courtesy SpikeTV and the Wrestling Observer. Data is copyright Nielsen Media Research.