Takashi Sato’s setback in UFC

BRYAN BATTLE threw a punch that hit Takashi Sato then followed it up with a kick to the face that dropped the Japanese fighter. And then it was over. Forty-four seconds into the first round of their fight Sunday.

While talking to Sato three days before the fight, he was confident that he had prepared well for Battle. Instead, he succumbed to his third straight defeat.

His manager is confident that he will continue to stay in the UFC due to his contract. But if they cut Mark Striegl after two losses, how much more Sato?

For oriental Asians, we have been taking a licking and a beating in recent months.

The previous week, in UFC 277, Korean women’s fighter Ji Yeon Kim lost to Joselyn Edwards. The week prior in UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs Rodriguez, Korean Jung Da Un was knocked out by Justin Jacoby.

During UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs Fiziev, Filipino-Ecuadorean Ricky Turcios lost via unanimous decision to Aiemann Zahabi.

The one big win for an Asian fighter was in UFC 275 that was almost two months ago when Zhang Weili defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a second-round technical knockout.

In that fight card, the Filipino-Australian Joshua Culibao took a decision from Korean Choi Seung-woo. Filipino-Hong Konger Ramona Pascual lost a decision to Joselyn Edwards and Chinese fighter Liang Na was KOd by Silvana Juarez.

Even before all these, I would wonder, why do the Asian fighters keep losing in the UFC. You cannot say the judges are biased because for the most part, it comes down to a knockout.

For the continent that pretty much invented martial arts, you’d think oriental Asians would be kicking butt. Instead, the Brazilians have become some of the world’s best and feared mixed martial artists.

The Eastern Europeans have been coming up really well with Czech Jiri Prochazka, Pole Jan Blachowicz, Russians Khamzat Chimaev, Islam Makhachaev, and Arman Tsarukyan, and Kyrgyzstani Rafael Fiziev to name a few.

How many oriental Asians are ranked?

You have “the Tibetan Eagle” Sumudaerji in flyweight, Song Yadong in bantamweight, Chan Sung Jung in featherweight, Li Jiangliang in welterweight, and Zhang and Yan Xiaonan in strawweight. And there’s Korean Zombie.

There are many theories about this. This is just what I hear and read. I wouldn’t have data to make heads and tails about this.

For one, mixed martial arts isn’t as developed or accepted as opposed to traditional martial arts or boxing in Asia.

While interviewing Zhang Weili before her UFC 275 fight, she did say that MMA isn’t as big in China unlike basketball and football. So it is an uphill battle. That was corroborated by Song Yadong in an interview that I had with him several months ago—that MMA wasn’t as big in South Korea.

Others point to the decline of K1 and Pride.

Some will say that Muay Thai—which is popular in southeast Asia—doesn’t stand up well in MMA.

Logically, MMA as a sport is advantageous for those with boxing, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

Watching the Filipinos in the recent The Road to the UFC, we were outclassed. By more than a mile. When One Championship first came here, the local entrants were also taking loss after loss.

Well, I wasn’t sure what kind of ranking or how competent the stable of fighters One Championship had during their first few years. Even watching from the periphery (as I do not cover them anymore), the organization has gotten better.

I will not say that the UFC, the world’s premier combat sports organization is limiting oriental Asian fighters. I disagree. They want more interest in the UFC especially with the huge population in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Right now, it is a grind for the oriental Asian MMA fighter. As you know, the only way to go is…up.