It was an historic night this past Saturday as for the first time ever MMA was shown on British terrestrial television. The network that broke new ground was Channel 5, and the event in question was the 11th show from the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA).
The two fight broadcast began in the middleweight division as Sam Boo went up against the darling of the tabloid newspapers, Alex Reid, a man who has become more famous for his exploits outside the cage.
I think the best way to describe this fight would be that it was interesting. The first thing I found interesting about it was when our esteemed announcers said that this was Reid’s first fight since his loss to Tom Watson for the Middleweight title. So I guess the farce against Jason Barrett that UCMMA put on doesn’t count now.
As for the fight it was okay if a little unspectacular. Boo looked the more lively of the two early on, with Reid’s best success coming when he connected with a series of knees when he pulled Boo’s head down.
But by the end of the first round Reid began to look visibly tired. Boo upped his game slightly in the second, but a knee to Reid’s head while he was still grounded earned him a points deduction.
Reid still looked shaky afterwards, and by the time the third round started his striking looked laboured as Boo beat him to the punch every time. It looked as if the only thing keeping him in the fight were his kicks, and he finally put some life into his work towards the end of the fight with a brief moment of ground and pound.
With no finish in sight the judges were called into action as Reid took the unanimous decision. A slightly vexing decision in my opinion, with Reid probably swaying the judges with his work late on in the rounds.
Then it was on to highlights of the middleweight fight between Jack Marshman and “Professor X” Xavier Foupa-Pokam.
With the first two rounds skipped it was on to the third round. Marshman’s face was a complete mess by this time, having already sustained a few serious cuts. Foupa-Pokam scored with the early takedown, and Marshman looked helpless as Professor X began to grind his man down as he connected with a few ground and pound shots to open up those cuts again.
As the clock passed the three minute mark the referee stood the fighters up, but it didn’t really matter much because X soon took the fight back down to the ground so he could continue with his good work until the final bell.
This meant more work for the judges, with Foupa-Pokam taking the split decision.
In conclusion - I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings about this broadcast.
I think it’s great that MMA action is finally being shown on mainstream terrestrial television, nearly 10 years after the UFC first appeared on our screens. In the long run it could be of great benefit to the sport, if it’s handled correctly.
Sadly, BAMMA 11 wasn’t. When they were bouncing around the television channels from the now-defunct Bravo to SyFy to Extreme Sports and so on we were always treated to a two hour show a few days after the show. You always managed to get a good feel for what the show was about, and that’s what made their product entertaining.
But a show lasting 65 minutes (including commercial breaks) which featured only 20 minutes of action is kind of inexcusable, and while it’s great to see the company trying to better themselves, and trying to take British MMA to a whole new audience, but this wasn’t exactly a good advertisement.
As for the fights, or rather the fight, it was obvious that BAMMA were trying to cash in on the notoriety Alex Reid has garnered on the celebrity circuit over the past few years. He may have had his moments a few years ago, but as a fighter I wouldn’t rank him anywhere near the top talents in Britain at the moment, and I think he was more than lucky to get the decision over Sam Boo.
It’s for these reasons that I’m going to have to give BAMMA 11 the thumbs down.