The UFC have today announced the withdrawal of support to the European Judo Championships, due to a reported threat from the European Judo Union (EJU) to cancel the event if the UFC was to remain involved.
The UFC revealed in a press release that the EJU threatened to cancel the international event just eight weeks before it was due to take place on 9-12th April at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, possibly jeopardising many athletes’ journey to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and harming the legacy of the Commonwealth Games, which took place in Glasgow last year in July.
The UFC proceeded to withdraw their support in the interest of the athletes and fans.
David Allen (pictured), Senior Vice President and General Manager of UFC EMEA said: “We love to see sport thrive and athletes prosper, which is why the UFC prides itself on supporting all combat sports, both mixed and individual disciplines. Our aim was to help Judo reach a new audience, increase promotion, help to sell tickets and create a buzz around the European judo Championships. It is disappointing to see that the European Judo Union cannot see the benefits of collaboration and celebration of all sports.”
Through its association with the British Combat Sports Federation, UFC was due to support the European Judo Championships with branding, marketing and also promotion of the event to its global audience of millions of engaged mixed martial artists – of which Judo is a founding discipline.
Just one week ago, mixed martial artists from Glasgow, one of whom began his career as a Scottish Judo champion, teamed up with Judo athletes at a press conference to begin promotion of the Championships.
Robert Whiteford was thrilled to be involved in the event and said: “It’s superb to see the cross collaboration between mixed martial arts and individual combat sports, this is the development of sport and it’s important to embrace it. Sharing techniques, skills and knowledge is important for personal, professional and physical development. The UFC’s involvement in supporting the European Judo Championships cements that forward thinking.”
Furthermore, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) also responded with disappointment.
The IMMAF released a statement of their own, and explained:
Like many of MMA’s athletes and fans, IMMAF holds judo in high regard as a founding discipline of MMA, which comprises a number of traditional and Olympic martial arts styles. IMMAF believes there is a synergy and shared values between the two sports that should be celebrated and that the organisations can offer each other mutual support and opportunities. In the UK the British Judo Association has fostered a positive relationship with MMA, supporting the United Kingdom MMA Federation’s application for sport recognition.
IMMAF believes that the EJU’s position is in conflict with the Olympic values of friendship and respect, and shows no regard for the universal sporting value of fair play.
In addition, Densign White – Judo Olympian, former British Judo chairman and current IMMAF CEO said:
“This is a devastating move on behalf of the EJU that lacks consideration for judo and its athletes; this repudiates its responsibility as a democratic governing body. The Glasgow event has taken two years of work and preparation, athletes across Europe have been training for many months and national federations have already outlaid costs for the event. The withdrawal of the European Championships would be a blow to judo’s athletes, robbing them not only of this opportunity to compete, but also a pathway to the 2016 Olympic Games.”
Photo (David Allen) by Jorden Curran