The Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to Saitama Super Arena in Japan for the fifth time in the company's history for Friday's UFC Fight Night 117: Saint Preux vs. Okami. Unfortunately, despite some exciting fights and finishes, it was a record-setting draw for all the wrong reasons.
The promotion's fifth trip to Saitama Super Arena was also its least attended.
While MMA's heyday in Japan went away with dissolution of Pride FC, it had to be disappointing for the UFC to draw less than 10,000 fans for the first time at a Saitama event. UFC Fight Night 117: Saint Preux vs. Okami had an announced official attendance of 8,571. Officials did not reveal the gate revenue.
UFC Saitama Super Arena Attendance:
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – 21,000
UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann – 14,682
UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson – 12,395
UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson – 10,137
UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami – 8,571
While the attendance was the worst it's been for a modern day UFC event in Japan, there were several fights that delivered for the fans that did attend.
Though the main event was a short-notice match-up, Ovince Saint Preux made the most of it, putting Yushin Okami to sleep with his record-setting third finish via Von Flue choke. No other UFC fighter has ever done that.
Legendary kickboxer Gökhan Saki made his highly anticipated Octagon debut by using his patented left hand to knock out Luis Henrique Da Silva.
But it was the ladies who stole the show. The co-main event showdown between Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha was a blood bath that went bell to bell with Andrade eventually earning a lop-sided unanimous decision.
Those three fights also included recipients of the UFC Fight Night 117 fighter bonuses.