UFC: Partnership with European Judo Championships encourages combat sports
London and Dublin fight fans must wait...
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 05/02/15 7:20pm
The next Ronda Rousey could be discovered as the UFC aims to bring together all British combat sports with its partnership with the European Judo Championships.
People practice tae-kwon-do, karate and judo individually but if you want a career to earn a living, and you’re good enough, MMA is the sport where you can become a professional athlete.
Rousey, the Californian women’s bantamweight champion, is one of the UFC’s biggest superstars and started her sporting career excelling in judo.
The mixed martial arts organisation will encourage the development of future fighters through an affiliation with the judo tournament which takes place in Glasgow in April – part of Scotland’s successful Commonwealth Games aftermath.
“We are the hub of combat sports,” David Allen, the UFC’s senior vice-president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told Sky Sports.
“People practice tae-kwon-do, karate and judo individually but if you want a career to earn a living, and you’re good enough, MMA is the sport where you can become a professional athlete.
“Mixed martial arts is embracing the whole family of martial arts with judo being one of MMA’s core components. People saw the UFC as a niche sport in the past but we promote the world of martial arts.
“Ronda Rousey won a judo bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, Nick Hein is a two-time European champion Glasgow’s Robert Whiteford is a judo player as well. The marriage between the two sports is something we want to help with.”
Allen insists this focus on judo will benefit grassroots sport as well as developing future UFC talent.
“We are partners, through British Judo, of the European Judo Championships which take place in Glasgow. It’s part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Games where the British team had such success. Now we’ll have athletes from all over Europe in Glasgow.
“No matter what country you go to, there is a combat sport practiced. With football, martial arts is a truly global sport. We’re embracing these sports, helping people participate, and helping fans understand the training, skills, ethos and ethics of martial arts.
“We are actively involved in setting up something that will be called the British Combat Sports Federation, we want that recognised by Sport England.”
The UFC recently announced its first event in Glasgow for this summer but London and Dublin (who missed out on Conor McGregor’s title fight to Las Vegas) must wait.
“I live about seven or eight streets from where Conor is from,” continued Allen. “The champion is from Brazil so can you ask him to fight in Dublin? I told Conor he now has the honour of wrapping the Irish flag around him and taking the hopes and dreams of his nation to the fight capital of the world.
“London is the flagship for everything we do across the Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It’s the first city on our calendar. We’re looking at coming back at the back end of this year but it’s not looking favourable, it’s likelier to be early 2016.”