The hits just keep coming for the UFC in Germany. Taunting friends from my years with the American Forces Network, boxing buddies and media who despise MMA, sent me an article today from Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the country's most influential newspapers. The paper reveals that the upcoming Munich Media Days will feature a panel on October 14th called ‘When Sport Is Close To Murder: Cage Fights - A Case For Protecting Minors?"
The UFC, rightfully, is upset, not just by the inclusion of this topic in a conference that primarily focuses on other less controversial subject matters, but also by their exclusion from the debate. The European head of the UFC, Marshall Zelaznik, sent a letter yesterday to event organizer Wolf-Dieter Ring complaining about the inflammatory title of the event and the UFC's inability to present a counter argument.
While the UFC may not be officially represented in the debate, the article in Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals that Oliver Copp will represent Fighters Only at the event. Copp, in addition to these editorial duties, is also the German announcer for the UFC in Germany. Although not officially there on Zuffa's behest, Copp will surely have the power of Zuffa behind him.
The controversial panel comes on the heels of the death of fighter Michael Kirkham, who passed away after a regulated bout in South Carolina this weekend. The death of a combatant provides additional ammunition for critics of the sport in Germany, where the UFC was recently pulled from national television due to political pressure.
The debate, expected to be a high profile event, may signal the beginning of the end for MMA in Germany. As I warned earlier this year, pushing German officials by scheduling another UFC event in the country before the television matter was resolved, has shined a bright light on the MMA business. What is exposed under scrutiny may set back the sport in Germany for years to come.