When Caged Aggression announced last year that they’d be having an MMA Event at the 75th Sturgis Bike rally this year I was super excited and wanted to be apart of it. This could be huge for the sport and introduce it to a huge amount of people. Caged Aggression at Sturgis could and should be one hell of a draw at the bike show, but I’m not sure how good this show is for the sport and the fighters participating in the event.
Caged Aggression is a show based out of the Quad Cities area in Iowa, home of Miletich Fighting Systems, and the birthplace of todays MMA, and Caged Aggression is the premier local show in that area. This is a great show for local fighters in the area and they are known for how good of events they put on, and they put a ton of time and effort into the production of the their shows, making it a great experience for the fighters and fans alike. The put on regular 2 night events, and this last year also put on a free show for their fans. Because the have such a great reputation in the Quad Quad cities I was super excited to see what they might be able to do by taking their show on the road to the 75th Sturgis bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Sturgis is a great place for MMA to be, this is an event that transforms the town of Sturgis, SD, population est. 6,683, to a town over well over a half million for the 1st week of August. Those half million people are a perfect demographic for MMA events, the biggest issue at an event like this around a crowd like that is the possibility for fights outside the cage to break out, which is never good for an MMA Event, but after this event the sport could gain a ton of new fans of the sport.
Here is where I see the issue lying, Caged Aggression is literally taking their show on the road. Most local events focus on local guys to sell tickets and drive the show. They will be putting on 20 fights with 40 fighters over 2 days, of those 40 fighters only 25% of the people are from South Dakota and Wyoming, and zero from Nebraska or Montana. The other 30 fighters are from the promotions local territory, of Iowa and Illinois. Because this is an event 11.5 hrs away very few of the fighters fans will be making a day trip to watch the event, and unless you knew a year ago you were fighting on the card your fans will be forced to stay in a hotel 2 maybe 3 hours away. There are several fighters from the area that would be a good fan draw, especially to an event like this, sometimes you just need an excuse to go.
There are options that would make an event at a place like Sturgis a truly spectacular show, the most obvious option to me would be to have a larger promotion with a larger draw and TV deal in place, such as RFA, Legacy, or Titan, put on a show there. This would allow the promotion to make a ton of money at the gate, but also allow the fans to see the fights and possibly be immersed in the event.
Now don’t get me wrong, there will be fight fans there, and many of these fighters have the ability to walk out of the Caged Aggression cage with a plethora of new fans. I believe the people at the show will get what they want, and bunch of quick finishes, but for the sport as a whole, and for the fighters I think this is a bad event, but all the fighters that make the trip will likely have the time of their lives.