by FIGHT! contributor Taylor Dickson
Most fans, if they’ve heard of Shooto, associate the promotion with Japan. And why not? The organization was founded in 1985 as a shoot wrestling promotion and evolved into a mixed martial arts powerhouse, producing the likes of Caol Uno, Shinya Aoki, and Joachim Hansen. The small Japanese outfit has its eyes on worldwide expansion but rather than seek out television deals and fly its entire staff overseas to produce shows, Shooto instead franchises leagues in different countries.
Shooto-affiliated shows are now active in nine different European countries including Switzerland. That’s not a typo. The gold standard for military neutrality is home to picturesque scenery, beautiful people, and a thriving MMA scene.
The sport was nearly unheard of before 2003 in the small, mountainous country. That was before Agusto Frota, a student under the Nogueira brothers decided it was time to bring MMA to his home of Zurich. On Sept. 19 of this year, Frota, a professional fighter with a record of 10-3 in Shooto and Cage Wars bouts, produced his seventh MMA show in the Swiss capitol.
The show featured rising European star Ivan Mussardo, who boasts a win over Ultimate Fighting Championship vet Denis Siver on his record along with losses to Dan Hardy and Thiago Tavares, as well as appearances by UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers.