by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
The British Fighting Championship was all set to debut next weekend in Nottingham, England following months of turbulent business negotiations in the current economic climate. The proposition was enticing with Grand Prix tournaments in each weight class planned to run over the course of the year to determine an eventual champion in each – with it the prospects of an international springboard onto the big stage… unfortunately, as of Tuesday afternoon, the BFC is stillborn.
Speaking exclusively to MMAWeekly.com, Tony McDonagh, lead deal broker for the promotion Cage Warriors and Warrior Promotions talked about the failure to get the project off the ground, “Anybody who dares to try something out of the ordinary is bound to meet resistance, and that is exactly what we faced, but not from the usual channels. What held this back is finances pure and simple,” he explains, adding that the standards they set themselves prevented the development. “The first hit was losing the Bravo TV deal, but we tried to forge ahead anyway as the key ingredient to making this work is TV exposure in order to bring in sponsorships, endorsements, and so on to help with the funding. But the quality level required for broadcast material has a huge financial burden, and in these times of economic pressure, the key deals weren’t forthcoming or were delayed for too long.”
Television is one side of the story, but the other is being responsible to the people that actually make the BFC enticing – the fighters. “We were in a position a fortnight out of the first show where we would have purse outlays, running costs, and expenses. We could have cut the fighter salaries back for the show, but we would have faced the same problem at the next. The last two weeks have been very tough on all involved with us trying to find a way to move forward with things, but we just couldn’t find a suitable solution and pulled the plug,” offers McDonagh.
With fighters already having undergone long-distance training camps for their bouts, there will clearly be disappointment and negativity coming from the ashes, and the demise of the series leaves a big pool of fighters with fewer avenues to explore. “If you look at the shows in the U.K., they are all undergoing some form of strife. We are all feeling the pinch. It’s a bad year, but folding the series before it gets off the ground means that we can weather this storm,” explains McDonagh, adding that the process of informing all involved began Tuesday and will continue until everyone understands clearly that there were no other options.
So where does this leave Cage Warriors and its fighter promotional arm Warrior Promotions? “To all intents and purposes, Cage Warriors is now operating on a franchise basis in the U.S.A. and Canada,” McDonagh explains. “We said last year as part of our business plan that we would curtail shows in the U.K. and concentrate on fighter development. To date with the (The Ultimate Fighter) exposure, Dan Hardy in the UFC, the success of the British team going 4-1 in the M-1 Challenge, we feel that we are fulfilling our promise with much more to come.”
So with Cage Warriors U.K. cards effectively being shelved, all eyes will turn to hosting a second M-1 Challenge event in September. “We are looking at two dates and two venues at the moment, September the 5th or 12th depending on the venue – which will be either London or in the North. And considering the location of the M-1 British Team participants, it will probably be the latter,” he concluded.
MMAWeekly will be monitoring this situation as it develops.