The views do not reflect any official statement or stance by PAKMMA but are the independent views of an individual MMA fan in Pakistan. We claim no responsibility for the views and opinions in this article
Why do we hold events? For a promoter the motivation could be to make money which is fair enough. You do not get into business not to make money from it. However, like every business there are certain set of rules that one must follow. There is nothing called an overnight success. There always is slow gradual step by step planned hard work involved before a business can really take off. If one does not follow these rules and considers his “master plan” as an exception to the rule, not only do they themselves crash and burn, they also end up taking down and impacting others.
Taking this argument forward, there are industry specific rules that are to be followed and respected. They are there for a reason. Rules of engagement for pro wrestling and MMA are different. If you try and give MMA a twist with a sprinkle from your WWE recipe cabinet, guess what? That my friend; is nothing but a sure shot recipe for disaster. I am not even sure if I can consider WWE a combat sports like MMA is. In fact I can’t as WWE style “entertainment” resembles closely to a “theatrical circus” with performers doing their respective acts. I by no means have any intention of ridiculing any pro wrestling fan, merely stating it as I see it to be. The point I am trying to make is, MMA is not a circus and if you try and make it one; not only it will not work, it will also destroy the image of Mixed Martial Arts.
Let us look at where VCL Underground 3 fell flat. As per VCL announcement, one of the sponsors VCL Underground 3 were Pizza hut. It was made out to be a big achievement that a corporate is sponsoring an MMA event for the 1st time in Pakistan. There were supposed to be free energy drinks at the event and there was supposed to be TV coverage.
In reality, there was none of that. In fact, there was no visibility of sponsor logos anywhere at all. We found that most probably DHA authorities did not allow distribution of free drinks and media into the stadium. Having been part of Lahore Rugby and holding Rugby tournaments at the venue, I am aware that DHA does not bar any activity if they have been informed prior to the event. The question is, was VCL not responsible for informing DHA authority about media and distribution of energy drinks at the event? It only tells me that the event was not well planned or planned at all for that matter.
We all know there is acute power shortage in Pakistan. “Load shedding” as we know it has sadly become a part of our daily lives. Being aware of this fact, there should have been appropriate arrangements made to ensure there were no power interruptions during the event. Generator setup to power 4 lights for the event either did not have fuel or was not strong enough to power the lights. For good 20 minutes, it kept on switching off all the while when fights were going on. MMA is tough, it is a combat sport and when two professionals go at it; at times they get punched or kicked hard enough to cut them which requires at the very least first aid medical attention. Needless to say, throwing punches and kicks in the dark can only result badly. Again, there was no doctor arranged for to provide initial medical assistance in the event that an injury took place. There was zero security for crowd management which resulted in people standing close and next to the ring who had no business being there.
VCL underground 3 was a complete disaster. From basic event management errors to broken promises, it had all the entertainment that a pro wrestling fan can ask for. This most certainly was NOT the MMA event this sport needed in Pakistan in order to grow and to be respected. The highlight of the event was the fight between MMA fighter and body builder. It was coined as Technique VS Strength, Batman VS Bane.
This event had gained hype and interest among MMA fans and appreciators of combat sports alike through social media. Almost all of the around 200 strong crowd were there for the main event and did not mind sitting through other fights. People who could not show up had requested for the fight video. The word was out, the excitement electrifying. When the time came for the main event, to everyone’s utter shock and disappointment; Zum zum butt (body builder contract to fight Afnan Iftikhar from Synergy MMA Academy) had not shown up. VCL announced that due to a stomach bug, Zum Zum couldn’t make it. This technically made it a forfeiture and Afnan the winner of this fight. As per the contract, he should have been paid right there and then. Instead, VCL offered a replacement. The replacement was a bigger guy (at least middle heavy weight) with at least one fight (win) under his belt. VCL argued: no fight, no winning amount. This was a clear breach of the agreement.
What was needed was a near perfect event, flawless turning of the wheels and an event extremely well planned. This could have been the moment MMA in Pakistan and VCL needed to establish themselves and move few steps up in one single stride. In the crowd were at least two journalists (one from a US based magazine and on from associated press). There also was Head of accounts management from one of the leading ad agencies in Pakistan. The timing of this debacle could not have been worse. The word in the market will be that MMA is not as established as we make it to be. Future sponsors will stay away as who would want to be associated with an event which failed on event management side of things.
So why do we hold events? We hold event not only to showcase, groom and provide exposure to talent. We also hold events to show how well the sports has grown and matured. If last night’s event is any clue, MMA in Pakistan has a long way to go. We were to take a few steps towards establishing this sport. Instead, we have now fallen behind. For the sake of MMA and all everyone involved with it, let us learn from last night’s hiccup (to put it mildly) and ensure that all future MMA events will only be MMA events without the WWE extras. I am now waiting anxiously to see what PFC4 brings. We all need it and we all need it to be flawless.