If there’s one thing you can say about MMA promoters it’s that they think outside the box and do all they can to get noticed. For the smaller promotions, this is absolutely imperative. How else will they be recognized in a sport which is still, in the eyes of most, defined by the juggernaut that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?
Many of these promotions’ events will go unnoticed by the wider world, but what shouldn’t be ignored is the creativity behind them. Specifically, the creativity behind the names of these events. Because, in that particular area, there are MMA promotions up and down America – indeed, all around the world – that have the UFC well and truly beat.
For some context, though, let’s start with the UFC, who, unbeknown to those who have only started following MMA, used to show a bit of creativity when it came to naming their numbered events. It wasn’t just a case of UFC 206: Ferguson vs. Lee, for example. There was some thought behind the events back in the day. Some effort. Some pride.
We had UFC 26: Ultimate Field of Dreams, a nod to the Kevin Costner film about baseball, and UFC 27: Ultimate Bad Boyz, a nod to the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence film about Miami cops. (Neither of these theories are true.) We then had some more typical event names along the lines of UFC 32: Showdown in the Meadowlands and UFC 50: The War in ’04, which even boasted a rhyme as its USP.
It was around 2007, though, that the well seemingly started to run dry. There was UFC 68: The Uprising, there was UFC 73: Stacked, a notable low point, and then, by 2008, generic titles ruled the land in the form of UFC 82: Pride of a Champion and UFC 84: Ill Will.
The last properly titled UFC event was, appropriately enough, UFC 125: Resolution on January 1, 2011. Since then it has all been about the headline fight and the two fighters involved dominating the fight poster and promotional material.
The UFC might have used up all their ideas, and said goodbye to fun, but other promotions have been more stubborn and determined in their approach. ONE Championship, Asia’s leading promotion, have long stressed an emphasis on building heroes and telling stories and it’s this mission statement which is best summarized in the naming of their events.
In short, and in no particular order, they love warriors, kings, lions and tigers. We’ve had ONE Championship 3: War of Lions and ONE Championship 33: Pride of Lions. We’ve had ONE Championship 32: Tigers of Asia and ONE Championship 52: Throne of Tigers. Then, in 2016, it was the turn of the warriors, as Clash of Warriors, Tribe of Warriors, Union of Warriors and Global Warriors were served up within the first four months of the year. Recently, Kings & Conquerors was introduced and with it the promise of some fresh fantasy characters, which we’re sure will be used over and over again.
Anyway, that’s the serious stuff; the relatively serious stuff. Or at least we assume they’re being serious. But the real fun is had when looking at the titles applied to events by promoters we imagine had their tongue lodged firmly in their cheek when drafting the PR plan.
The night UFC lightweight Bobby Green fought Toby Gear, for instance, he did so on a promotion called TFA 11: Pounding at the Pyramid. He also fought on King of the Cage events called Imminent Danger and Moral Victory, both of which are noteworthy.
In fact, many KOTC events are. Below are some of the best.
KOTC: Fisticuffs in December 2014.
KOTC: Extreme Horsepower in March 2016.
KOTC: Provoked in August 2016.
KOTC: Due Process in September 2016.
KOTC: Harm’s Way in September 2016.
KOTC: National Dispute in September 2016.
KOTC: Social Disorder in October 2016.
KOTC: Warranted Aggression in December 2016.
KOTC: Violent Confrontation in March 2017.
KOTC: Public Offense in May 2017.
KOTC: Maximum Intensity in July 2017.
Spot the bizarre law enforcement theme? It adds to the charm, I suppose.
Some other corkers are on offer at Rings. Over there in Holland you could have found Rings: I Have a Dream, the promotion’s tribute to Martin Luther King, which took place in November 2003, as well as Rings: Some Like it Hard, the porn take on the the work of Marilyn Monroe, in December 2001, and Rings: One Moment in Time from December 2002, their ode to Whitney Houston. (None of that, I suspect, is true.)
Mixed martial arts, eh? Sure, it’s the fastest-growing sport in the world, but it’s perhaps also the strangest.