American mixed martial arts promoter World Series of Fighting has signed its first Japanese fighter ahead of its inaugural China card to be held on the island of Hainan on 21 November.
Yoshihiro Koyama, a veteran of more than 30 professional fights, was previously signed to Pancrase, where he won four of his last five fights. He has also fought with Japanese promotions Shooto and Deep.
Koyama was part of two signings from World Series of Fighting Global, an offshoot of the US-based World Series of Fighting, which has big ambitions to crack the market of mixed martial arts in Asia.
Also joining the World Series of Fighting Global ranks is Brye Anne Russillo, a professional WMMA fighter who will make her decagon debut in Tokyo on 7 February.
Russillo recently made headlines around the world over comments she made about her F-cup breast size and how she spent months negotiating an appropriate weight class for her professional debut.
“They weigh 12 pounds,” she said in an interview.
Despite this rather intriguing dilemma, Russillo won her first match after breaking her opponent’s shin. She will now compete on a global stage with WSOF.
Earlier this year World Series of Fighting held a press conference in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to announce efforts to bring its brand of MMA to the Asia market.
This led to the opening of its Greater China headquarters in the Hainan province of China and the founding of World Series of Fighting Global Championship (WSOF-GC).
Shawn Wright, president of WSOF Global and a partner of MMAWC, the parent company of World Series of Fighting, holds exclusive ownership of the rights to promote events and the WSOF brand outside of the United States.
After promoting events in Canada and Nicaragua, Wright says the time for a new team to expand those initial efforts into other markets, with an immediate focus on Asia before planning to move to other areas of the world.
“We are the World Series of Fighting. We need to honor that name by promoting more events and fighters outside of the United States,” he said.
“By promoting events in other regions around the globe with World Series of Fighting Global, we hope to build WSOF’s brand outside of the United States, not detract from it.”
Darren Owen, director of operations at World Series of Fighting Global, described the global arm as an entirely new organisation and associated to the US-based WSOF by name only.
“We don’t share the same staff, fighters or commentators. We also aren’t in any competition with them and have a professional and personal interest in seeing them succeed.”
But he said this does not rule out the opportunity for cross promotion in the future.
“Once we have established ourselves separately from them and crowned our own champions, we are happy to issue or welcome any challenges from WSOF USA or any other organisations for that matter.
“It’s honestly time that more organisations and teams from around the world had more global recognition. At the end of the day, we just want to find out who the best fighter is, whether they compete in WSOF-GC or another organisation. We hope we can work with other organisations to bring those champions together under one common goal, the promotion of MMA.”