UFC on BBC Three: Why the BBC partnering with the UFC is a landmark for the sport

COMMENT: A deal that will see the sport showcased on BBC Three has been announced

James Edwards@MMA_Jim
Monday 22 February 2016 17:34
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Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor

The announcement earlier today that the UFC have partnered with BBC Three's new online platform to deliver 'promotional and editorial' content represents a huge day for the sport this side of the Atlantic.

Whilst MMA is regarded as the fastest growing sport in the world and the UFC is a powerhouse in the US, here in Europe the MMA boom period is still for the most part dormant, with only a small but passionate audience fuelling its small voice amongst the noise of the more widely popular domestic sports.

Whilst this news of the BBC partnership is perhaps not as game changing as a new Sky TV broadcasting deal might be, it still represents a big step in the wider acceptance of the sport and it's ever growing popularity.

Speaking as a relatively new journalist to the scene, I'm still on a day-to-day basis confronted by the same misconceptions that the sport has suffered from since it's beginning, that it's barbaric, that there are no rules and that it is a cage fighting blood sport where thugs with no skill just simply beat each other to a pulp with little regard or respect for one another.

For anyone that understands what it is to be a martial artist you will know those principals couldn't be further from the truth. The UFC is arguably the most elite combat sports entity on the planet and the fighters are some of the purest, disciplined most phenomenal athletes in the world.

Those that reach the top level of MMA require levels of dedication, heart, bravery, skill, technique, and passion that only the average human being can ever dream of. Behind almost every fighter there is a story of sacrifice, hard work, blood, sweat and tears, all paid in the effort of being known as the most elite mixed martial artist in the world.

Whilst the deal with BBC Three may not include the broadcast rights for UFC events it does open up the opportunity for people that have experienced the sport before to understand what MMA is all about. The 'promotional and editorial' partnership that has been agreed opens up the opportunity for the UFC to have their story told by the BBC on their platform and for them to introduce a whole new audience to some of the phenomenal athletes and stories that millions of us already enjoy on a weekly basis through previews and short feature films.

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The outcry has of course already begun on social media with people saying: "the BBC have wasted public money again," but we live in a world where not everyone can be pleased. Critics are entitled to their opinion but I ask they see the wider response before begrudging people like myself for being happy that our sport is being given wider exposure and a greater chance to succeed.

Today is a day for media, fans and fighters in the sport to be happy about the progression we've made together but we must continue the push for wider acceptance and awareness with new and younger fans. If the BBC content is your first interaction with MMA or the UFC then approach it like all new things - with an open mind and with the willingness to let a whole new sport capture you.

Like every sport, MMA and the UFC will always have it's fans and it's detractors but today's announcement is a landmark move in opening up the sport to new eyes and ears that the UFC haven't ever graced before. Congratulations to both the UFC and the BBC on this historic partnership.

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