From what I know of, it is only BAMMA and Cage Warriors that sign fighters for exclusive multi-fight deals with the UK, and this blog is about why a fighter would do that?
Now, with Cage Warriors I can understand the thoughts behind signing with them, at the time of signing they may have had the Sky Sports deal, great media exposure, arguably Europe’s #1 show as well as regular shows with 12 last year. Many of the shows are also international ones meaning that as a fighter you get to go abroad and fight international competition.
If I put it into perspective, if I was a fighter and a contract was on the table for a multi fight deal with Cage Warriors, I would 99% sign it as long as I thought I was at that level, of course.
In recent days it has been revealed by BAMMA that Max Nunes, Jimmy Wallhead and Leeroy barnes have signed exclusive deals with BAMMA. Whether it be 3 or 4 fight deals etc, my question is as a fighter who is fighting in the UK for not much monetary gain, why would you commit yourself to BAMMA?
This is not a malicious assault on any of the fighters who have signed deals, because I respect each one of them, Wallhead is a legend of the sport, Leeroy makes me laugh on twitter and is a likeable guy and Nunes has a great persona and is going all the way. This is also not an assault on BAMMA as I want it to work for them, I want it all to come together as it could have (as it already has had) a massive positive effect on UKMMA.
The pro’s of signing for BAMMA on a multi-fight deal include the fact that they are one of the big 3 promotions and provide top draw, well matched fights. Also, having a contract signed and sealed therefore leaves the fighter in some sort of security that means they will definitely get a fight. Also, BAMMA’s marketing is very good, I believe, so in any way that you are an asset, they can market you very well. So for example, Jim Wallhead has fought for Bellator etc, BAMMA will let everyone know!
The main pro, which also has a very big negative attached to it however, is the lure of Channel 5 TV. Make no mistake about it, what BAMMA has achieved with the TV deal is amazing and the fact these guys could well end up fighting on terrestrial TV must be a big attraction.
There are also some negatives, in my opinion, with signing for BAMMA. One of the main ones for me is that by signing an exclusive, you are tied in to fighting solely for BAMMA, now this sounds a good thing, but let us set the scene: 2 weeks out from your BAMMA fight, you pick up and injury (touch wood), you are out for 3 weeks, BAMMA’s card comes and goes, now there isn’t another show for 3 or so months (with no set date at that time either). Now, in a time of economical hard ship, added to the fact that MMA fighters don’t get paid that much anyway, could you afford to go another 3 months with no income?
The other negative is that the Channel 5 lure will not appeal to everyone, only a select few will get on TV whilst other fighters lower on the card will not get any TV exposure. Add that to the fact that Youtube videos of the fights take quite a while to be released, it isn’t great for sponsorship opportunities unless you are top 3 on the card.
I can however see why BAMMA would want to sign fighters to exclusive contracts. As a business they are trying to build a solid foundation and you can’t do that with the uncertainty of whether a fighter will fight for you again. If they build someone as their champion, then they wouldn’t want that champion to be matched on another promotion whereby they could lose and therefore lose all credibility as the BAMMA champ.
I have a feeling this may cause a stir, but I wanted to air my views as a neutral. I have no real ties with either promotion mentioned in this article beyond a press based relationship so I think I have written a fair piece here. Again I would like to reiterate that this isn’t an assault on anyone, as I’m sure there is details of these deals that us press don’t know about, like get out clauses if the UFC or other big promotions were to come calling, but going on face value, from what we have been told as press, I really don’t understand the need for the ‘exclusive’ part of the deal as I’m sure any fighter would choose BAMMA over their local show if given a phone call…