Let’s take the rise and rise of MMA, which has achieved more in ten years than Thai and Kickboxing has in the last thirty in this country. UPC introduce a format to (he television public in the !)()’s. It is built as a Brand. Pride do the same in Japan and build it as a Brand. Now Cage Rage in England are doing it and building it as a Brand. The whole ethic has been consistent.
In UPC they took an extreme concept, put it in a (perceived to be) extreme environment (a cage), and built it from there. Now UFC is a brand leader in its field. In fact many of these brands are so pow-erful that they have Brand champions rather than world champions. The more powerful the brand the more credible the belt.
Thai and Kickboxing itself is not a brand, however much it may deserve to be. In our game we have no branding, no consistency. In fact the only thing that has been consistent is our inconsistent! Our aborted attempts since Pat O’Keefe appeared on World of Sport in 1974 to move
Kickboxing into the mainstream have only served to dig the hole we are in a little deeper because all coverage has come from man)’ areas with no common denominator.
Not one promoter has built a brand powerful enough to sit with the likes of CAGE RAGE in this country, and Dave O’Donnell and co. has achieved that in a few short years. I am delighted for them, they are great guys but how is il they can do it and we can’t. Are we perhaps concentrating on the wrong issues? Should we be learning from them rather than slagging off their promotions? I think so. Yes, you could say that Cage Rage were fortunate to secure major backing that has allowed them to stage events every twelve weeks at a loss in order to build their brand for the final surge into the UPC and Pride market place, making them the third biggest MMA organ-isation in the world. But if they could secure that kind of support in a few short years, why couldn’t we?
MMA don’t really have world champions, they have brand champions. I quite like that to be honest. It means that business minded people have worked hard lo make their particular brand credible thus increasing the value of being their champion. This system has in fact raised the revenue being received and paid for all, and allowed it to grow, overtaking all other combat sports in it’s wake. Once again I must emphasise that I am talking about the British market place despite using Pride and UFC as reference points. I feel this is valid because Cage Rage has successfully emulated their peers. With that in mind, why have we failed to emulate Kl, It’s Showtime, Too Hot To Handle etc etc? Many say it’s because there is not the money being pumped into the game. So whose fault is that? AIM A managed it!
Yes Alby Bimpson is right, there did used to be one credible British Champion. Yes Paul Hennessy is right, we need a board of control to move things for-ward. So who is going to do that? Who will spear-head the revolution and more importantly who will support them. Year after year, meeting after meeting this comes up with no movement. Everyone protecting what little they have already achieved. Spokesman stand up with great ideas but emphasise that they don’t want lo lead the assault. However when presented with a leader they lose interest because thai person wouldn’t be their first choice. Support evaporates, assault on the big time ends. There are so many people not speaking or dealing with each other that the likelihood of a board of control or The golden belt becoming a household name is pretty remote, however hard the likes of Alby and Paul try (and they are trying). In fact come to think of it, do they even speak to each other? I believe there is an answer to everything and one of us has the key to unlock the door – the rest of us just have lo believe him and take a chance on walking through it, and that ain’t happening right now! There is a part two to this debate but I’ll save it for another day. There is enough for us all to think about here without complicating the issue even more. Whether you believe it or not, this sport of ours is fighting for it’s life and most of us have put too much in over the years to see it just disappear up our own asses.
You all have plenty to say in the chat rooms -now come and say it here!