As if Simon Rutz's claims of bankruptcy earlier this week were not enough, top DREAM featherweight Kazuyuki Miyata also spoke publicly against Japan's leading fight-sport promoter this week, claiming in a blog post that after two and a half years of patience, he has had enough of the dishonesty and problems surrounding FEG.
Speaking exclusively to MMAFighting.com, the recent DREAM title contender detailed his problems with FEG, his plans for the future and gave his thoughts on the UFC's 2012 Japan return.
Although foreign fighters have been vocal about their problems with FEG, Kazuyuki Miyata became the first Japanese fighter to publicly speak out against the troubled Japanese promoter this week, stating in a blog post that his contract with FEG has been "irreparably damaged due to payment issues" and "dishonesty" and that he will not continue to work with them.
"Well, as it has already been known or [at least] rumored by most in the industry for some time now, and recently has come to light in the world media, certain fighters, such as myself, have not been paid either in full, and/or at all by FEG for quite some time now... a couple of years actually, in my case," said Miyata to MMAFighting.com.
"In the beginning, Mr. Tanikawa and FEG where very good to me. They treated me very well and I was on a good contract," said the former Olympic wrestler. "Before going any further, let me take this opportunity to state how much I sincerely appreciate those initial stages of my relationship with FEG and Mr. Tanikawa, The opportunities [I received due to that contract] helped me, my family and my career during those initial stages."
Although falling victim to the incredibly difficult matchmaking during the early stages of his career, Miyata received almost unparalleled support from FEG at the height of the Japanese fight-sport bubble. In addition to the exceptional purses up for grabs in the Japanese fight scene during the mid 2000s, Miyata also received a monthly salary and support for his family during training camps.
With the collapse of PRIDE in 2007 however, the fight-sport bubble was burst and Miyata, Alistair Overeem, Ray Sefo, Jerome LeBanner, Peter Aerts and many more have been chasing payments for years now. While Miyata declined to reveal how much is owed by FEG, if it is in line with his others who have gone public against FEG, it is likely to be a significant amount.
"It is for the reasons above that I trusted Mr. Tanikawa and FEG and continued to be patient with the ongoing promises of being paid in full for as long as I did," said Miyata.
Although Miyata has been able to survive financially due to sponsor support, after not receiving fight payment for so long, one may wonder where the recent DREAM featherweight title contender gets his motivation to compete. Removing money from the equation though has actually brought surprising clarity to Miyata's career.
"Japanese events used to be on network TV and more mass media exposure. Being in the public eye really inspired and motivated me, but in recent times the events have been aired really late at night, edited down to only an hour or so, and eventually not aired on free to air at all," explained Miyata. "But now with events not being shown on network TV and without as much media exposure, it has made me realize my real passion for the sport and why I evolve and compete. [Fighting] has been my life for many years and I appreciate the opportunity to do what I love professionally. That's what really inspires and motivates me now."
Despite his problems with FEG while fighting for DREAM, Miyata does intend to continue fighting and will fight in Japan's leading MMA promotion, at least for the time being.
"Of course I am planning to continue competing," said Miyata. "My contract with FEG was completed at the end of last year and it was from that time forward that I negotiated a fight-by-fight contract with DREAM [co-promoter] Real Entertainment. I am very interested in the UFC and potentially entering that realm but at present, I have my sights set on the end of year show here in Japan [but] will consider my options after that, sometime early next year."
Miyata mentioned in a blog post earlier this week that Real Entertainment, the company formed by ex-PRIDE FC employees who partnered with FEG to co-promote DREAM, is financially "healthy." Although DREAM still lacks TV support and sponsors, fighters who have been directly contracted to Real Entertainment (i.e. those who didn't extend their contracts from the former FEG-run K-1 Heroes promotion) have not publicly complained of payment issues.
Whether or not the UFC can be successful in Japan with their Feb. 26 Saitama Super Arena daytime event is a hot topic among pundits. For Miyata though, rather than speculate on the possible failures of a Japanese UFC event, he is more interested in finally seeing the evolution of MMA in Japan.
"I'm no expert on [promotion], but what I can say is that I am very interested in seeing firsthand the top fighters the UFC has to offer on Japan soil. I'm much more interested in the new and exciting evolution of the sport, rather than continually seeing ex-Pride fighters perform."