BAMMA Fight Night: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

With BAMMA Fight Night London firmly in the rear view mirror, having taken place last night at London’s iconic venue, York Hall, let’s take a look at what went well and what didn’t.

Just as a reminder in setting out this candid review and for full disclosure I have previously acted as a behind the scenes videographer for BAMMA in what I fondly like to refer to as their heyday. I’ve worked for many MMA promotions and have no axe to grind and like all mixed martial arts promotions, fledgling and otherwise I want to see them do well, exceptionally well. More so when promotions like to trot out the strap line ‘The UK’s biggest MMA promotion’.

The Good
The setting, York Hall and the idea that this would be an evening in which the paying public could take in live football via an in house large screen and fights once the game had finished wasn’t without merit. 10 out of 10 for ingenuity, creative thinking and breaking from stale formulaic models of old. The execution of this perhaps could be best summarised by a viral gif that will immortalize Batshuayi forever which did the rounds after Belgium scored against England last night.

via Gfycat

The shoulder programming that followed the live broadcast ‘The Best of BAMMA’ is definitely worthy of note. It was nothing short of spectacular. A reminder on the one hand of where BAMMA have excelled in the acquisition of exceptional talent but also painted a rather bleak picture that many of those featured have, behind the scenes and publicly, shown their disdain at how the promotion has treated them.

BAMMA should also be commended on their media turnout which when you consider representatives from Yahoo, ESPN and The Daily Express were in attendance for a ‘Fight Night’ that in itself is no mean feat. Getting media to attend events these days is not easy. I’ve reported from many recently, when compared to 18 months ago when the sport was heavily reported on, events nowadays seem to resemble a desert wasteland in terms of press in attendance.

The Bad
The Gif featuring Batshuayi also goes on to illustrate a promotion who let one of their finest assets whistle off into the sunset weeks before their London event event took place. Furthermore, as I’m told by those close to the situation, failed to consult him on the key matchups that made up this lackluster card. I get that it was a ‘Fight Night’ but this had all the hallmarks of something which was thrown together rather hastily and it showed in the sparsely attended hall and end product. A product which resembled a poor imitation of some of the less than stellar London based MMA promotions we know all too well.

With Bellator’s Aaron Chalmers firmly out of the picture and with ongoing litigation with the promotion doubly confirming his lack of interest in working with BAMMA this is truly a worrying time for the promotion and its lack of marketable athletes that not only put bums on seats but have a genuinely interesting personality and fighting style. I’ve spoken to former standouts who are choosing in their droves to sign contracts with Cage Warriors, ACB and KSW it looks as though the talent pool that BAMMA have to work with could possibly be on the wane.

The Ugly
BAMMA excel when it comes to production values, their posters and brand assets are the best in Europe that a promotion has to offer. From a TV point of view last nights ‘Fight Night’ was a disaster of the highest order. I can imagine what audience they had managed to retain via the football that preceded its broadcast was quickly lost in the lackluster performances that led up to an incredible main event.

A promotion succeeds or fails on the strength of it’s matchmaking. Obviously it’s a given that funding, a business plan and resources play a significant part too. However, it’s clear a strong matchmaker is needed. Based on last nights effort BAMMA need to secure someone with exceptional foresight, a story builder, and someone with an eye for spotting future stars urgently. Unless this is tackled I can foresee an ongoing series of own goals which is a penalty BAMMA can well do without at this moment in time.

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