I finally got around to watching the MuayThai Premiere League's second event on TV that I had PVR'd from last night. The fights were great and filled with action. I'm going to focus on the actual production and promotional aspects of the promotion. This was my first time watching the MPL on TV and I came away thinking that there is some room for improvement in their production values and promotion.
The show itself is pretty standard: Introductions, fights, post fight interview, repeat. There's not really any connection made to the fighters, no actual promotion of the fighters themselves on the broadcast. I myself don't mind as I have no problem with just standard fights but I can't help but feel that other people who watched the event feel a real pull towards a fighter. Sure, fighting speaks for itself and the fights were great but many are drawn in by personalities. There was really no showcase of individual personalities aside from a short, somewhat awkward post-fight interview. Most notably, they definitely missed the boat on promoting Ky Hollenbeck who is one of the top American fighters in Muay Thai. Fans can relate to someone from their home country competing on the world stage.
The event was definitely a missed opportunity for promotion. How is anyone supposed to know or care if there are no means of watching? The only place the event was broadcast was in Canada on The Score where I watched. Eurosport just got around to airing the first event. There's virtually no internet buzz.
In terms of the actual setting, it should be altered for a better viewing experience. The dark ring canvas along with the whole crowd seemingly blacked out (probably to hide the poor attendance) isn't very viewer-friendly. The setting needs to be brightened up a bit. It's a bit like Bellator's problem where the cage colours create a dull appearance but in this case, the setting is very contrasted.
As for commentary, Mauro Ranallo is cool and all for MMA but the reality is he just isn't that knowledgable about Muay Thai. He's out of his element. It also seems to me that the commentary is more kickboxing oriented than Muay Thai. This can be attributed to there being a lot of kickboxing stylists in the MPL but not enough attention is given to important aspects of Muay Thai like clinch striking, throws and overall dominance. These were really only highlighted a few times over the whole broadcast. Most of the time it seemed that punches were getting the most attention scoring-wise for the commentary team when they aren't valued as much as the other weapons in the arsenal of a nak muay.The judging seems to lean more towards kickboxing too, but that's a whole other story.
Do I like the MPL? Yes, I do but they have their flaws and this is just what I think they can improve on. Their format is great and the right idea is there. Hopefully they can make improvements to bring their product to the next level.