OCTOBER 8th 2016 will be remembered as the night that put MMA on the map, ending Boxing’s monopoly over British combat sport.
UFC 204, the first PPV event on British soil in five years was headlined by arguably British MMA’s most successful ever export, Michael “The Count” Bisping.
16,000 people were reportedly in the Manchester Arena on the night and the event had a solid buy rate of almost 300,000 buys around the world, this records comfortably stands alongside all of the UFC events in 2016 not headlined by Conor McGregor.
UFC 204 was sold on the rematch between hometown fighter Bisping and experienced American Dan Henderson from UFC 100. A fight that resulted in Henderson knocking out Bisping in the 2nd round.
On the night however the Mancunian gained his revenge with a victory by unanimous decision to one of the loudest ovations that the Manchester Arena has seen in years.
— Goras V (@Goras89) October 9, 2016
After the fight Bisping said that the hometown crowd inspired him to victory. He said directly following the fight “The crowd were amazing. I could hear the energy from the fans throughout the entire event. I want to thank them all for showing so much energy, it was incredible. I felt that.”
Many hope that the success of the event will encourage the UFC to bring more events to the UK in the near future.
British MMA has become a growing industry over the last decade with many different promotions rising in prominence.
Shinobi MMA is a fairly new promotion, formed in Queensferry in North Wales it held its first event titled “Shinobi War 1” in November of 2011.
Earlier this year the organisation found themselves going viral when Liverpool based fighter Sheldon Reid produced one of the most brutal knockouts in recent memory.
The video of “The kick heard around the world” was featured in articles by sources like Bleacher Report, The Daily Mirror and The Metro.
Oddly, arguably the greatest impact on British MMA comes from Conor McGregor, a man who doesn’t even hail from the United Kingdom.
The operations manager of Shinobi MMA, Jay Matthews, said “I think Europe as a whole is benefitting from having Conor who has made the UFC a household name, you just have to look at how quick to look at how fast 204 sold out to see the impact having an English fighter like Bisping at the top of his game can have. Since starting Shinobi in 2013 I’ve seen a steady increase in fan interaction.”
McGregor’s whirlwind rise to the top has captured the attentions of the world’s media and given MMA an unprecedented platform to gain prominence in the public eye.
McGregor’s impact within the sport has seen many compare him to sporting icons like Mike Tyson and Tiger Woods when it comes to their importance to their respective sports.
If McGregor continues with his unparalleled upwards momentum over the next few years then the sky’s the limit for British MMA. The more Conor wins the more Brits will tune into watch and more will take up MMA classes at their local gym, cementing MMA as a genuine contender for boxing’s crown.