Global exposure always plays a key role in the expansion of a company. Anytime a product reaches a brand new market, it gives fans the opportunity to witness something never seen by those in the area. Once the product grows in popularity to where more and more people want it in their area, it spells success for the company responsible.

Take London’s Cage Warriors Fighting Championship promotion, for example. For almost 12 years now, Cage Warriors has featured some of Europe’s best MMA talent, including The Ultimate Fighter 3 light heavyweight winner Michael Bisping, former UFC welterweight title contender Dan Hardy, recent UFC signee Cathal Pendred and current UFC featherweight sensation Conor McGregor, who held the Cage Warriors promotion’s featherweight and lightweight titles before signing with the UFC. The promotion has also looked to combatants like James Brum, Cory Tait, featherweight champion Jim Alers and a host of other international talents to help cement the argument for Cage Warriors as the premier MMA league in the European MMA circuit.

The growth of the promotion, however, does not stop at the development of new stars. By the end of 2013, Cage Warriors had secured deals with a variety of outlets. Fight Now TV in the United States, Premier Sports in the United Kingdom, Setanta Sports 1 in Ireland, The Fight Network’s outlets in Canada, Portugal, Turkey, and Angola, Fight Klub in Poland, Setanta Action in Africa, and the variations of ESPN International in Brazil, Latin America and the Pacific Rim all took notice of what Cage Warriors brought to the table in terms of entertainment value, and every one of those outlets opted to feature the promotion’s programming. MMA Junkie also aids in providing live streams for North American audiences, specifically in the United States and Canada, while Cage Warriors’ official site streams the cards to the rest of the world, excluding the United Kingdom. Sportube.tv in Italy and JOE.ie in Ireland also provide online outlets for international viewers. In January, Cage Warriors added a broadcast deal with Viasat in Scandinavia to its list of outlets for broadcast partners, meaning that fans in the Nordic region of Europe—in other words, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway—will get Cage Warriors action via Viasat’s various free-to-air televisions networks.

Some believe that the securing of these deals truly puts Cage Warriors second behind the UFC in terms of top MMA promotions. Some may even suggest that it perhaps puts Cage Warriors ahead of the UFC in terms of global reach. In any event, Cage Warriors plans to make strides in 2014 to solidify its claim as the No. 2 promotion at a global level.

Much like Asian MMA kingpin ONE FC did in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, Cage Warriors created international demand for its brand of MMA by not only putting on solid fights for European crowds, but also by acquiring its numerous broadcast deals. With a wide array of fighters from different parts of Europe—and increased pursuit in signing fighters from beyond the continent—the promotion held the talent needed to bring a globally successful brand of unique, world-class MMA competition to the table. The promotion needed to work with more than just the TV deals alone, especially since not every MMA fan can find a way to access Setanta Sports, The Fight Network, Fight Now TV or any of the other aforementioned networks. Hence, Cage Warriors decided that allowing MMA news outlets, men’s lifestyle websites and other internet-based mediums to stream the content to fans would prove itself as an effective means of attracting attention.

As impressively as Cage Warriors broke into certain parts of Europe, the promotion has made more noise by taking its product to places that not even the UFC has touched yet. Very few established promotions have ever talked about doing shows in Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain or Ukraine, but Cage Warriors has already visited all of those parts of the world. It comes as no surprise that the promotion’s exposure to the Irish market did not stop with its treks to Dublin. Cage Warriors CEO Graham Boylan recognized that the influence of the traditional martial arts extends beyond the major cities, with boxing and various martial arts clubs existing in Cork, Ireland, and judo competitions taking place in Cardiff, Wales. With martial arts spreading its ideals and fundamentals to areas unknown to most of the world, Boylan decided to put those towns on the map by featuring shows in smaller cities, where fans would come to appreciate the action of a splendid MMA bout just as well as a crowd in a bigger city would, if not more.

Cage Warriors represents something more special than just being “any promotion,” and if anyone asks if they may hold the true No. 2 spot behind the UFC from a global perspective, then the answer is yes, though the promotion doesn’t fall far behind the world’s largest MMA organization, especially with the way Boylan and his promotion keep expanding. Fans could argue the success of the World Series of Fighting on the same level, especially given the promotion’s recent global ambitions. The WSOF decided to make a quiet power play by purchasing Omega MMA in Nicaragua, rebranding it as World Series of Fighting: Central America. It later acquired Canadian promotion Aggression FC when that promotion’s executives shuttered the organization to join forces with the WSOF for a Canadian branch of the WSOF. The promotion has also partnered with Pancrase for a Japanese branch and is seeking to expand into other markets as well.

The issue there is that nobody knew about the WSOF’s move into Central America until they heard that former boxer Ricardo Mayorga headlined the first two cards. Even then, the idea to keep the Central America branch under wraps silences the possibilities that company head Ray Sefo could afford himself if he instead opted to go public with the announcement of the branch. Not the least of which would include more public offers from network television outlets in Latin America that would invest in the WSOF product. The current success of WSOF in the United States shows the talents that Sefo possesses when it comes to discovering talent. However, Sefo’s venture into Central America serves as little more than just step one towards reaching success on a global scale.

It’s impossible to sing a different tune about Bjorn Rebney’s Bellator MMA. His situation almost mirrors that of Sefo, with a few key differences. First, Bellator can claim some Canadian fight cards. Six of its events have come in the province of Ontario, with four in the city of Rama. Second, Bellator makes no distinction between its Canadian events and its U.S. events. The similarities end there, though, and although fans seems more likely to name 10 Bellator fighters than 10 Cage Warriors fighters off the top of their heads, they cannot make the case for more deals with international outlets when comparing the Bellator move towards global expansion to that of Cage Warriors. Does that mean Bellator and the WSOF cannot find a way to expand in a similar manner and break into countries that not even the UFC considered? Absolutely not, because anything can happen in MMA, even on the business side of things.

Like it or not, however, Cage Warriors remains a promotion on the rise, and not just because of who the promotion now has or once had fighting for them. Cage Warriors made more major moves than it will ever get credit for, and with consideration to the quality of young talent the promotion prominently showcases on every card, it feels unfortunate that Cage Warriors may never truly get the props it deserves for doing what it has done.

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.

  • spermman

    paying most of their fighters up to 1000euro per fight, and some champions 2000e, is hilarious speaking about 2nd world promotion

    • J

      Who knows what they pay but who cares …. Quality of show and media coverage is all that really matters

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  • JimGunn

    I enjoy the Cage Warriors fight cards. They do one thing right in that they make the events available on free online video streams worldwide for those that can’t watch them on tv. And the online sportsbooks usually have odds for their main cards which also builds interest for the hardcore fans and gamblers.