SANTA MONICA, California -- RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara knows what plays in Japan.
After all, as the former leader of the legendary PRIDE promotion, Sakakibara oversaw events at his company's peak which filled stadiums and drew television ratings North American promoters can only dream about.
And while Sakakibara is looking to rebuild the sport in Japan with RIZIN after a down period, he knows a winner when he sees one, even if it's a competitor in another promotion. He's not afraid to say UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor would be as much of a hit in Japan as he's been around the rest of the world, should have ever chose to bring his act to Saitama.
"He would do fantastic," Sakakibara said through an interpreter. "The fans would go crazy over him."
Sakakibara complimented both McGregor and his superstar counterpart, Ronda Rousey, for fueling the UFC's latest boom period.
"Their style, Conor and Ronda, given the weight class and divisions of who they are, being able to make such a huge success financially, that has changed history within the fight game," Sakakibara said.