European MMA promotion OKTAGON MMA has announced a landmark broadcasting partnership with Channel 4 in the UK.
As part of the deal, all OKTAGON MMA live events and shoulder programming will be available to stream on Channel 4 and on the Channel 4 Sports YouTube channel, in what will be seen as a significant moment of growth for UK MMA promotion.
It further underlines the embracing of MMA by some of the UK’s mainstream broadcasters, with BBC also holding a longstanding collaboration with Bellator.
The partnership will commence with the new reality TV series, ‘Stage to the Cage’, featuring reality TV superstar, Jake Quickenden, and top comedian, Paul Smith, which launches with the first three episodes on Tuesday, September 5, as well as ‘OKTAGON Challenge: England vs. Ireland’ later in the month.
Pavol Neruda, Co-Founder of OKTAGON MMA, commented: “We are very proud to sign a deal with Channel 4 and we’re very happy to close a deal with such a big broadcaster. They believe in us, they want to do this with us, and they like the OKTAGON MMA product.
“The game changer in this deal was Stage to the Cage, a reality show starring Jake Quickenden and comedian Paul Smith. Channel 4 thought it was a clever idea to put these two guys together in the cage. We’ve seen celebrity boxing fights, but this is something different. They are training for one year and having to completely change their lives.
“MMA fans can expect to see the first episode of Stage to the Cage in August. Then after that OKTAGON Challenge – a reality show that will see England and Irish talent battle it out in and outside the cage – followed by our first tournament live from Frankfurt in September. This will be a first for Channel 4 and we’ll be expecting big numbers. This is the first schedule but with more content to follow. Next year we are planning four more fight nights in the UK and also in Ireland. We are looking for the right arena in Ireland because Irish fans are amazing.”
The first OKTAGON MMA live event to stream on Channel 4 will be OKTAGON 46 on September 16, which features the semi-finals of the €1 million Tipsport Gamechanger welterweight tournament inside the iconic Festhalle Frankfurt in Germany.
Neruda added on the deal and the future of the promotion: “It’s a must now to find and recognise the best young talent in the UK and Ireland and sign them. There’s so much talent right here right now, the scene is so much different than four years back. We will make them famous in the UK first, but also Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia thanks to our broadcast partners.
“Most other promotions are buying big name fighters, but they just come, fight, and leave. This is not our strategy, we want to showcase local stars like Shem Rock and Akonne Wanlisse, so fans can stay with them and watch them progress towards the title. We said no to big name-attractive options and instead we are taking maybe the harder route. But it’s better for fans, fighters, and our brand, and there’s a good reason for it.
“Fight fans can look forward to a lot of fun, entertainment, great fights, very good stories and reality TV shows. That’s what makes us different. We believe nobody is doing this in the UK on this scale, and with these shows we will hit a different audience, not just the MMA enthusiast.
“The UK and Ireland MMA fans are lonely – but we will reach their friends and relatives and attract a lot of new fans, so MMA fans will have a bigger community to share their passion with. This will change the dynamics; how people are watching MMA, how they talk about the sport at the bar – suddenly MMA will become a topic for way more people. We want to be the home of MMA in the UK.”