The UK Mixed Martial Arts scene is a big passion of mine, I am a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts and have been for a long time, I’ve even had a little go myself………… but I wasn’t very good 😦
I have been lucky enough to get along to some amazing events, see some awesome fights and meet LOADS of really cool people as part of “the scene”. I have fought on shows, cornered other fighters at shows, helped out on shows and just sat and watched shows. Other than my local event Full Contact Fight Night (held regularly in Portsmouth UK), my favourite of all the UK events was Cage Rage, once seen by many as the pinnacle of UK MMA. Once upon a time, if you got to fight on Cage Rage that was about as big as it got for UK MMA events and the next step was international stardom!
Of course there are many other amazing UK events the biggest of which is probably Cagewarriors which has some of the hardest working peopl in MMA behind the scenes, a website that is seen as “the pulse” of UKMMA and they have launched the careers of many of the UK’s top fighters (as well as some international ones too) like Mike Bisping, Dan Hardy and Rosi Sexton. But they never really seemed to be able to get the support at the shows that they deserved. FX3 is a great event with some awesome fighters on the books, AMMA looks like they do great events (although i havent ever made it to one), likewise Cage Gladiators, Ultimate Force and Ultimate Warrior Challenge. There are also many other local “grassroots” shows that do great things for – what i will politely call – the “lower levels” of UK MMA (no disrespect intended to the events or the fighters that fight on them).
But Cage Rage was the one that really got me fired up as their cards were second to none. In fact i would go so far as to say that there were a few Cage Rage cards in the past that were better than the some of the UFC and Pride cards happening during the same period.
*cage rage rant starts here*
In it’s heyday Cage Rage was HUGE! It used to be awesome in terms of the match-ups they put on, the fighters on their books and it’s part in driving UKMMA forwards and forcing Europe and America to sit up and take notice of the Brits. They got over some AMAZING fighters from overseas and I’m lucky enough to have seen fighters like Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Vitor Shaolin Ribiero, Cyborg & Melvin Manhoeff amongst others have some awesome battles at the live shows. I got to meet Dana White, Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonner when they came over to watch a Cage Rage show and I also got to see some of their earliest shows for free as i used to be part of the cage crew that helped set up the cage for the event. The build up to a Cage Rage show always got me pumped up about watching some quality MMA action (apart from Jeremy Bailey fights, I’d use his fights as an excuse to go get a drink from the bar 🙂 ).
So I am bitterly disappointed at how it all turned out. Cage Rage went bust and now puts on shows under the “ultimate challenge uk” banner, and whereas when i used to look at stacked Cage Rage cards and know who every fighter on there was, I now look at the cards and have never heard of half of them…. how the mighty have fallen! It doesn’t seem long ago when Cage Rage really was the UK’s UFC, it was shown on skysports and had big things ahead. Nowadays we have The “fighting hurts” reality show on NUTS TV (lol) which I personally hated. Dave ‘O’Donnells over the top “cockney hardman” act doesn’t sit well with me to be honest, I don’t get it. I dont know the man personally so dont base my opinion on knowing him, only what I see and what I see is that the “TV” version of D.O.D, in my humble opinion, does the public perception of MMA no favours and is completely laughable!
Saying that, I honestly dont know how he managed to go from the heights of events like Cage Rage 15 with the awesome Cyborg vs Manhoeff fight (seriously if you love MMA and have not seen this check it out…it’s immense!) to getting wannabe “cagefighters” ( I hate that term) to growl at a Slam Man dummy and show their “mean face” (seriously it’s true – search for Fighting Hurts on youtube and see for yourself). Credit where its due for getting MMA on TV in this country and he has worked hard, but honestly. He could have a UK TUF, instead it turned out to be like some sort of bad spoof from a crap BBC3 sketch show or something.
It has been said on various MMA forums that Cage Rage were almost-certainly-most-probably-quite-definitely-well-allegedly behind some pretty shifty “political” moves to try and shut out competition from other events in the UK, like scheduling shows on the same day as their rivals, stripping fighters of titles if they fought on other events and general slyness and skullduggery (great word that, glad i got to use it in a blog!). So although they put on great events they had a lot of haters in and around the UK MMA scene for the way they apparently/allegedly handled their business. Maybe I’m naive and business is business no matter how ruthless it may appear, but I would have hoped that a more “community” based approach from all UK promotions would be the way to go.
phew now that’s off my chest…
So with Cage Rage seemingly in reverse gear and with a not so great reputation for they way they “get things done”, who picks up the mantle for UK MMA? Which show is going to represent UK MMA and stand up alongside other events in other countrys? It wasnt looking good as the other big UK shows didnt seem to have the same impetus that Cage Rage once had… Fast forward a few months to today though and enter the British Fighting Championships. This is going to be AMAZING!!
Several of the biggest UK MMA promotions have got together to co -promote the British Fighting Championships which, in my opinion is going to become THE benchmark event for the UK MMA scene. Kudos to the people behind it, firstly for paving the way for UK MMA promotions to work together constructively and secondly for hopefully once and for all banishing the notion that the once great Cage Rage (now Ultimate Challenge) is the flagship UK event.
It is a tournament format with 16 fighters in each weight division and a random draw (a la the FA cup) to match up the fighters in each weight class. The fighter pools are pretty much a who’s who of the cream of UK MMA. (Check the draw out here)
The winners of the whole tournament in each weight class can genuinely claim to be a legit UK champion and number 1 in the country and with good reason – the pool of talent in each weight division is incredible. Apparently there was going to be a deal to televise this on Bravo, which I read recently has fallen through, hope they get picked up by another network as I NEED to see this. Hopefully I will get to see some of the shows live, but family commitments and saving for a wedding mean it ain’t as easy as it used to be to get to events.
This event is a defining moment for UKMMA right now. The winners in each division will be propelled right into the spotlight and ripe for picking up by big international promotions and I think this is a fantastic idea and am sure it will be a great success. If UKMMA fans get behind it, it will go on to be THE UK MMA promotion and I’m jumping on the bandwagon early!!
The content of this blog is the authors opinion and nothing else so if anyone thinks that some of the things i have said here are inflammatory or libellous then go ahead and moan or leave a retarded comment for me to laugh at. I am allowed an opinion same as everyone else, I have not masqueraded anything I have said on here as fact and I re-iterate this is ONLY MY OPINION