The first big major sporting event to return to our screens was found in MMA as back in May the UFC had been able to hold a number of successful events, and have since continued to put on a few great matches – many are now looking to boxing for the promised heavyweight title fight but combat sports as a whole are going through some big changes during this pandemic – some are only short term, but may also lead to longer term adjustments.
The first noticeable change is within fan attendance, or the lack of it – if you’ve watched any recent UFC event you’ll have noticed a very different atmosphere as no crowd noise makes such a huge difference, you’re able to hear every strike that lands or every word the fighters say. This may be one of those short term changes, as boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has already hinted that there are hopes we may see a small crowd of around 2,000 on boxing’s return, but it does open some interesting possibilities – perhaps there’s a way in which cornermen or the ref can be mic’d up to recapture some of this different atmosphere so the best of both worlds can be found – both the crowd noise to fuel the atmosphere, but also the somewhat eerie sounds that happen during a fight where there’s nothing to drown the noise out.
We may also see a short term change to how these fights operate in a monetary way – combat sports historically have relied on their pay-per view model alongside ticket sales at the gate to gauge how successful the event has been, this may now be a little difficult to see as having no tickets for sale at the gate will have a heavy impact on how revenue figures are looking, but there may be some good news in betting here as operators start to ramp up their operations as sporting events return.
This ramp up comes despite changes that have had an impact on the operators over the past two months, alongside the recent introduction of a ban to online credit card betting, there have also been a number of changes to different initiatives such as gamstop as it has now become mandatory for all operators to register or be at risk of losing their gaming license, fortunately there are ways around this as you can see here, many are now choosing to register elsewhere to avoid this scheme and allow access for all different players.
Will that being said however, any changes that do happen are going to happen extremely quickly – the next big event on the way can be found in UFC 251 as it takes place on the anticipated fight island which may also have a number of changes within itself that we’re excited to see which is also leading to a quick number of fixtures – four over the space of three weeks. It’s an exciting time for combat sports, and it may be more important than ever to keep an eye on changes being seen, because some may be around for the long haul.