Friday Column: BAMMA London Provides A Timely Reminder That It’s The Fans That Matter The Most

Jim Edwards takes a look over what went down at BAMMA London last evening at York Hall in Bethnal Green.

Last night at BAMMA London in York Hall in Bethnal Green we saw some good, but a lot of bad.

It’s always best to start with the positives and there’s no better place to kick things off than with the main event.

The Good…

Terry Brazier and Rhys McKee put it all on the line last evening in a fight that was levels above anything we witnessed in the BAMMA cage last evening.

For the most part, the fight played out like we all expected it would. Brazier used his superior strength to outmuscle McKee in a lot of the grappling exchanges and when it was all said and done, that was the difference between the two on the night.

One most of course tip the hat to Brazier for picking up his third (not second!) BAMMA title, but equally it’s worth respecting the efforts of McKee who Brazier said afterwards was the toughest fighter he’s faced so far.

At just 22-years-old, McKee has all the makings of a special fighter and whilst the defeat last night will hurt in the short term, the experience will no doubt be of benefit for this later career.

Write the kid off at your peril; he will be back.

Now for Brazier. What can you say about this man?

Standing cageside I was told “to beat Terry Brazier you literally have to kill him” and last night there was plenty of evidence to suggest that is true.

Brazier is grit, heart and determination personified, but his skills are fast catching up with all those aforementioned qualities and it’s making him a truly dangerous fighter for anyone on the European scene.

Will he ever make it to the UFC? Who knows. His record suggests he deserves it, but he’s not the type to be calling for it. He’s a rare breed and one that needs to be celebrated.

As for the rest of the card, what can you say?

The battle of the ‘Pretty Boys’ was it was; a solid American wrestler dominating and stifling a raw but skilled stand-up fighter.

Say what you want about Anthony Taylor, but he’s got a skillset that will likely see him have a lot of success on these shores and he’s currently backing up the talk.

Will he become BAMMA champion? Who knows. One thing I do know is that it will be fun watching him try.

The bad…

There’s always plenty of negativity surrounding UK MMA and people are often overly critical, but last night there was no getting away from the fact that it wasn’t BAMMA at their best.

I forget the amount of times I was told “this show is all about TV,” but that’s no excuse for some of what went on last evening.

The cheapest ticket to get in the building last night was £75; about £70 too much in my opinion.

On a night where you could go down the pub and watch England play in the world cup for free, asking fans to pay that much to sit in the sauna-like hot York Hall was frankly ridiculous.

Elliott Hoye and Brazier to their credit brought fans to the arena, but on the whole, it was by and large a disappointing atmosphere.

But it was for TV right!?

Well, we won’t know the actual ratings for a while yet, but I would be surprised if any of the viewers that the show would’ve gained from the lead in from the England vs Belgium game on ITV made it past round two of Chi Lewis-Parry vs Lukasz Parobiec… if you did god bless you.

What a mess of a fight.

Reports after suggest that Lewis-Parry suffered a serious injury to his knee (ACL or MCL), but at the time it was simply just bad.

Watching the Lewis-Parry backpedal for 15-minutes whilst the Pole threw the same right jab and overhand left for three rounds wasn’t the sort of fight that would’ve kept viewers tuned in. What a shame.

Put it down to luck or what you will, but the fact is the gamble hasn’t likely paid off, but that’s the least of the problems.

Chasing TV ratings and boasting about them is like Floyd Mayweather Jr. informing us he’s just bought his fifth private jet – the fans don’t actually give a f***.

Fans are interested in the product and having a good time at the fights with their friends; they don’t care about TV ratings.

Sure, a successful TV product will see the business develop, but last night we saw BAMMA forget what really matters and that was the fans.

Ticket prices, rushed walkouts and fights on a damn Thursday night during an England World Cup game.

Promotions, yes promotions, not just BAMMA, need to remember that it’s the fans that fill your arena and it’s the fans that make your product, what actually happens in the cage, important.

What are fights without fans watching?
If a tree falls in a wood when no one is around, does it make a sound?
If McGregor knocks out Aldo in 13-seconds, but no one is around to see it, does it actually mean anything?
Go figure.

I travel all around the world covering the sport and there’s definitely a correlation between happy fans and commercial success.

I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m glad I’m on this side of the table, but it needs to be said.

Your fans make or break you and after last night, BAMMA need to go back to basics and remember what is actually important.

* This article represents my views only and are no in any way representative of MMANytt

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