Saturday, July 11, 2020

FAME UK – A failed experiment?

FAME MMA held their first ever UK based event last night as celebrities from around Britain and Poland went toe-to-toe in the cage. We were at the event to see it all unfold, but from the outset and throughout, it was a shoddily organised festival of cringe, saved only by a couple of decent fights.

The event

From the second we arrived at the “press window” and received our press accreditation, which was a green wristband with the word “press” hastily scribbled on it by the lady at the window, it was clear how this night was going to go. Walking through into the event arena, we’d been told there’d be a press room on offer for us to use – but nobody seemed to know where it was.

Eventually, we were told to wait by the door with all the other journalists in attendance – where we stood for a solid 15 minutes before being ushered into the event hall by security. They took us to a block of seating in the stands, where we assumed we were being temporarily housed while they looked for a place for us, but no – this was where we would have to stay. Not a big issue for us as we’d been told we were NOT to bring laptops/cameras of any kind – ridiculous in itself. It was, however, a big issue for the others, who HAD brought a lot of equipment with them – but were never able to use.

Looking around the arena, the one immediately striking detail was the sheer amount of seats that had been covered with tarp or hidden with a curtain. In a building capable of hosting 11,000 people, there were at least a few thousand seats covered up – an immediate red flag for the expected attendance. Slowly but rather unsurely, the arena started to fill up – but by the time DJ Charlie Sloth came meandering down to the cage, there were still pockets of empty seats everywhere. See pictures below – notice the curtains and the tarp covered seats in the third pic.

Eventually, around about 20 minutes behind schedule, the event started as they brought out all the fighters onto the stage to parade them in front of the audience – which was reportedly 5,000 strong – although I’d wager it was slightly less than that. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, the fights got underway – starting with Callum Markie and Casey Barker.

FAME MMA UK not up to much

FAME MMA UK
Fame MMA UK original card

I won’t go into too much detail on the fights themselves, you’ll be able to find all the reviews over the next day or two on the combat sports page on the site. The fights were about as you’d expect them to be – it looked as though you had a load of celebrities with little to no MMA experience fighting each other. So, in reality, most of the fights were a bit poor, one or two were OK – notably, the fight between Dawid Malczynski and Adrian Polak, wherein both fighters demonstrated they actually knew what they were doing.

Other fights, including the main event between Sam Gowland and Marty McKenna were a little lopsided – with one fighter having clearly trained, and the other not so much. Given that less than an hour before the event, McKenna was sat in the arena taking pictures with journalists and laughing with his pals, it seemed clear he wasn’t taking it as serious as Sam.

Another notable issue with the event, from inside the arena, was the sheer lack of chemistry between host Charlie Sloth and his Polish partner. Their banter was cringe-worthy, the language barrier was an issue and it seemed clear the Polish guy, who’s name I have no idea about, was shoe-horned into the production to make sure there was a Polish element to the presentation.

From what we were reading on Twitter, the television production of the event wasn’t much better…

PPV Production

For those who didn’t manage to get to the arena but still wanted to watch the event, FAME MMA put on a pay-per-view broadcast on their website. Originally, the price was just £5, but at some point this week it ended up being bumped to £12.95 – indicating they weren’t making as much money from it as they planned.

So, what did you get for your money? According to viewers on Twitter, not very much. To begin with, the commentary was in Polish and although there was an option to change it to English – they didn’t bother telling anybody about that until the shows intermission. Either way, it’s a British event – why wasn’t in defaulted to English anyway?

Away from that, there were plenty of reports of the production crashing a lot and just all-around poor organisation – in keeping with just about everything else throughout the night. We asked our Twitter followers who had bought the event whether the FAME pay-per-view coverage was worth their hard-earned money – it was an overwhelming no.

We spoke to the promoter of FAME MMA, Adam Horner, after the event to get his take on the low attendances inside the area.

“No it wasn’t as full as we might have hoped,” he said. “At the same time we hope everybody who did come had a great time. We think there will be another FAME [in the United Kingdom] but we just don’t know where it’ll be yet – maybe London, maybe Manchester – let’s wait and see.”

Whether or not that will actually happen remains to be seen – they have the makings of a potentially good thing, but the execution last night was very poor. If this concept is to work in the United Kingdom, the production will need to far sleeker, they will need to attract much bigger names than they did, and they’ll need to promote it a lot better than they did this time.

One of the most annoying things about the event was the sheer lack of information available about the event online. We didn’t know the rules of engagement for the fights, we didn’t know how many rounds they were having or how long the rounds were supposed to be. We didn’t even know where the weigh-in was until the day of the event…

When it came to news about the event, we had to get it from the Instagram pages of the fighters rather than any of the pages related to actual event. We ran a story about Scott pulling out from the event based off an Instagram video from Stevie Bear, 24 hours before the FAME UK social media accounts even addressed it. In terms of the fights that were on, a lot of those weren’t confirmed until late on in the week – the whole organisation was very poor.

There were people sat around us in the arena who had no idea that Stevie Bear wasn’t fighting – when we told them, they were all very disappointed and considered leaving. So, if they are to do this again, they’ll need a far better PR team, a far better promotional plan and they’ll need to put on a much more organised and slick show – or it will flop… again.

For more news and opinions from the world of MMA and boxing, visit our combat sports page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Facebook for more opinions and analysis right to your timeline.

Kieran Harm
Kieran hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton. He covers a range of sports, specialising in football and NFL. Kieran is a long-suffering member of the Toon Army as well as a very proud member of Broncos Country.

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