A few months ago, after I reviewed the UFC’s 5th show on FX, a fan who goes by the name of Ace James posted a very interesting reply to my piece.
To cut a long story short he said it would be great if the UFC held weekly shows, so fans would get to see UFC action on a more regular basis.
While this idea is all well and good it got me thinking. If people want to see regular MMA action then why not look outside of the UFC?
Now while I can’t speak for other countries here in merry old England (and the rest of the United Kingdom) if you sift through the various digital television guides you’ll be able to find MMA action at least once a week.
So here now is my guide for those wanting more regular MMA action.
You will probably begin your search through the schedules with the crown jewel of television sporting action, Sky Sports (Sky 401-404). They’ve shown quite a few MMA promotions over the years, including the UFC, and these days British promotions Ultimate Challenge MMA and Cage Warriors currently call the channel home.
Ultimate Challenge emerged from the ashes of the highly-praised Cage Rage in 2008, following the demise of their parent company, Elite XC.
Fronted Dave O’Donnell, UCMMA (and Cage Rage before them) have promoted fights featuring some of the biggest names in MMA today. Anderson Silva is a former Middleweight champion, while the likes of current UFC alumni Michael Bisping, Paul Daley, Tom Watson and John Maguire have plied their trade under the O’Donnell banner.
Some people may not like O’Donnell’s style, but those who have seen him have to admit that he is perhaps the most charismatic man in British MMA. He’s also a jack of all trades. He’s a shareholder, a trainer, the host of their weekly Cage Fighter TV show, and the host of their live events. He’s the ultimate showman, and has an infectious quality about him that makes you want to watch his shows.
The fights he promotes aren’t too bad either!
Compared to UCMMA Cage Warriors may seem a little reserved in comparison. That doesn’t mean they’re not as good though. They’re one of Europe’s longest running MMA promotions, and having appeared on a number of channels over the years they were a more than welcome addition to the Sky Sports schedules. It’s an example of how the MMA world is quite unlike the other world I regularly cover. You’d never see WWE sharing a British television channel with TNA, would you?
Like UCMMA/Cage Rage many UFC alumni have competed under their banner, most notably the aforementioned Bisping and Daley.
If you go a bit higher up on the Sky Digi-Guide and keep an eye on Premier Sports (Sky 428) you might get to see some Cage Contender action.
Based in Belfast, Cage Contender recently revived the one night tournament format with the first of their Fight Stars series. It was refreshing to see MMA go back to it’s roots as it were, although this particular tournament had more in common with boxing’s Prizefighter and Bigger’s Better series.
One word of warning though. Although Cage Contender shows are usually broadcast free-to-air on this subscription channel you’ll probably only get one chance to see them, as repeat showings are normally encrypted.
Another promotion you might want to look out for is the Jersey-based Rumble on the Rock promotion. I must admit that I know very little about this particular company, although I did record a couple of their one hour highlight shows.
If you’re still interested in seeing a national MMA promotion here in Britain you’d probably be interested in the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts. Having bounced around various television channels BAMMA recently made history when they were shown live on Channel 5 (Sky 5), the first time a British MMA promotion has been shown live on one of the major channels here.
BAMMA has it’s good and bad points. They seem to have been a kind of stop-start promotion since their inception in 2009, and while their earlier television shows on Bravo, Extreme Sports and SyFy were well presented their move to mainstream television have left a few people, including this writer, scratching their heads a little. Hopefully the Channel 5 executives will realise how to handle MMA coverage in the future.
If you look a bit deeper you’ll find some of the lesser known MMA promotions on some of the lesser known channels.
Extreme Sports (Sky 419) have shown countless promotions over the past few years, including Strikeforce, King of the Cage, Gladiator Challenge, WEC, the aforementioned BAMMA, as well as few other British companies as well. They recently added Africa’s Extreme Fighting Championship to their schedules, and most of these shows are regularly rotated on their schedules.
And if you like a spot of kickboxing they also show Chuck Norris’ hybrid World Combat League as well.
If, like me, you’re something of a couch potato you may have skipped past The Active Channel (Sky 281).
Alongside programmes where bodybuilders tell you how to build up your muscles and reduce your fat and The Cheeky Girls teaching you how to dance you’ll find numerous British MMA promotions on there.
Like Extreme Sports these shows seem to be on a regular rotation. The likes of Shock ‘N’ Awe, Knuckle Up (fronted by former boy band member Dane Bowers), World Fighting Championship, Universal Cage Fighters, and my local promotion East Coast Fight Factory (I really must go to one of their shows one day) have made appearances there recently. You can also catch a bit of kickboxing action with the Fight Force promotion as well.
I think I’ve covered everything here, although I get the feeling that I may have forgotten a couple of promotions. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to seek out non-UFC action. If you do I must give you this piece of advise.
If you’ve only ever watched the UFC’s brand of MMA action you may be a bit disappointed by the quality of some of the fights shown on these channels. If you are then please stick with these shows. Not every fight you see will be a five-star classic. There is, however, the possibility that you might see a star of the future on one of these shows, someone who, one day, will challenge for a UFC title. And if they do you can sit back and fondly remember watching them in the formative years of their careers.
I’m going to end my guide for British viewers with a few website links for those who don’t want to spend hours browsing through their Sky Digi-Guide. Keep an eye on their TV schedules for upcoming MMA action.
Channel 5 – http://www.channel5.com/
Extreme Sports – http://uk.extreme.com/
Premier Sports – http://www.premiersports.tv/
Sky Sports – http://www.skysports.com/
The Active Channel – http://www.theactivechannel.com/
Finally, don’t forget to check out my website at twoshedsreview.blogspot.com. It’s been online in one for or another for nearly 13 years now!