In a world of corporate suits, wheelers and dealers and savvy businessmen, it was a barber turned YouTube podcaster who brought NCAA wrestling to UFC FIGHT PASS.
“I look at UFC FIGHT PASS as it’s like Netflix for combat sports,” Bogle explained. “Why wouldn’t wrestling want a seat at the table?”
For years, UFC FIGHT PASS has specialized in top tier BJJ, MMA promotions, boxing, kickboxing, lethwei, Muay Thai and original programming, but had never dipped its toes into NCAA wrestling. Wrestling fans like Bogle have sat on the sidelines for years, knowing the relationship would make sense, but year in and year out, it’s been more of the same for the NCAA faithful.
Fans of the sport have every stream, regardless of quality, bookmarked and alarms set for every dual. You may miss matches, you may miss angles, you may miss career defining matches, but these are just the hoops you jump through as a fan of a niche sport. In Bogle’s opinion, it’s a hole perfect for UFC FIGHT PASS to shore up.
“There’s so many times where we pay the money for the subscription and the stream goes out,” Bogle said. “I personally think that what wrestling fans are going to enjoy the most out of this is that we have a stable stream and professionals behind the scenes and not just team managers setting tripods up. The infrastructure behind it is professionally done, there’s going to be great commentators doing the match, and maybe everybody can learn something.”
The phrase “grow the sport” is repeated so much throughout the wrestling community that diehards instinctively roll their eyes upon hearing it at this point. Facts are, wrestling does deserve growth, spotlight and more credit, but where there are no immediate opportunities to do just that, Bogle and Campbell University went the extra step in finding other eyeballs.
“My thing is I’ve always thought that if you want to get more wrestling fans you’ve got to put them in a different audience,” Bogle said. “Wrestling has always been streamed on the same platforms, I know because I’m a fan, and I’ve been watching. A lot of them are these platforms that are wrestling specific. If you want to get new fans, you’ve got to get them in front of new fans.”
There are plenty of NCAA wrestling fans who watch MMA, but there aren’t quite as many MMA fans who watch NCAA wrestling. Some might read those words and get defensive, but the way Bogle and Campbell University see it, that’s just opportunity for a whole new fanbase.
“This is Division 1 wrestling,” Bogle said. “It’s the highest level of wrestling, it’s the level that all their favorite fighters came from. I think a lot of times if you’re an MMA fan and not a wrestling fan, you hear a lot about these wrestlers after the fact. You hear about their accolades after the fact, but you never get to watch it in real time. If you’re already paying for FIGHT PASS, you’re seeing them in real time. If they do make it to the cage or to the Olympics, you’ll already have some context.”
For the casual wrestling fan who may know the Penn State and Iowa appeal, Bogle explains that Battle At Bragg isn’t a bottom of the barrel effort to say UFC FIGHT PASS now has wrestling. Campbell University, University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan are some of the biggest heavy hitters around.
Bogle compared the early season event to NCAA football bowl season, with Campbell being the Boise State of old, North Carolina being up and coming studs the nation has their eyes on and the defending National Champion runner-up Michigan Wolverines being a powerhouse that just fell short last year.
Regardless of how any team performs, it’s a historic moment for UFC FIGHT PASS and, potentially, a historic moment for NCAA wrestling. As for the MMA fans tuning in for their first dual ever, you may just be the biggest winners in the equation.
“For wrestling fans and MMA fans, it’s going to be awesome. If you’re a fan of both, you’re going to see a lot of guys like Bo Nickal, who started off on UFC FIGHT PASS. You can keep your subscription and see a guy you used to cheer for make his MMA and his fighting debut. For those people it’s going to be great. The more Bo Nickals or the world and the more Ben Askrens, the more MMA fans will get created from wrestling, so it’s a win for wrestling and it’s a win for MMA.”
Catch Battle At Bragg on Friday, November 11, LIVE from the historic Fort Bragg, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!