Organising a combat sports competition: 8 tips from the European Beatdown

Organising a combat sports competition: 8 tips from the European Beatdown

Mov­ing from the octa­gon to organ­is­ing fights was the chal­lenge set in 2016 by Manu Pezou­va­nis, cre­ator of the Euro­pean Beat­down. This MMA event organ­ised in Bel­gium is con­stant­ly grow­ing and is a great exam­ple for any­one wish­ing to organ­ise a sports event — and more par­tic­u­lar­ly in com­bat sports. Curi­ous to under­stand how he had achieved this suc­cess with 7 events in just 3 years, we asked him how he is organ­is­ing the Euro­pean Beat­down. Here are his respons­es.


  1. Know your sub­ject
  2. Take action
  3. Com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly
  4. Offer a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence
  5. Set achiev­able goals
  6. Choose a tick­et­ing and access con­trol solu­tion
  7. Find tips to sell more
  8. Believe in your pas­sion

1. Know your subject

Can you tell us about the history of the European Beatdown? What led you to create this event?

The sto­ry start­ed with a friend with whom I used to do MMA. We had both stopped for some time and had sep­a­rate jobs. He ran a Cross­Fit gym and var­i­ous shops. I was the sales man­ag­er at a radio sta­tion. We realised that by bring­ing togeth­er our con­tacts – with his sport­ing expe­ri­ence and my logis­tics exper­tise – we could cre­ate some­thing sol­id. I organ­ised con­certs so I knew all the tech­ni­cal logis­tics and the media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion approach.

2. Take action

Is this how the first European Beatdown was born?

Exact­ly, in Decem­ber 2016. We chal­lenged our­selves to launch it in 3 months and we attract­ed about 3,500 peo­ple. The aim was also to plan a dif­fer­ent MMA event from what we usu­al­ly see. For exam­ple, in France, MMA is pro­hib­it­ed, so peo­ple organ­ise Pan­crase com­pe­ti­tions instead. And in Bel­gium, events hap­pen in mul­ti-pur­pose sports halls with a max­i­mum of 300–500 atten­dees. We want­ed to do an Amer­i­can-style show. When you come to the Euro­pean Beat­down, it’s real­ly a sound and light show. We’re going all out! It is an event that costs us about €150,000 for one evening so it’s a sig­nif­i­cant bud­get

3. Communicate effectively

It feels like everything went perfectly from the very first time! Is that really the case?

That was the case, yes. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly in terms of prof­its, but giv­en the enthu­si­asm, we imme­di­ate­ly under­stood that there were things to be done. It was an advan­tage to be famil­iar with the sport, as that meant we knew a lot of peo­ple. All the venues in the region and in the north of France quick­ly got on board. We quick­ly set stan­dards with video com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paigns. We pro­mot­ed our fight­ers direct­ly, in order to attract peo­ple who knew them. As time went on, thanks to the media, every­one knew that there were cage fights in Mons with a real Amer­i­can-style show. Now we rely less on the fame of the fight­ers, and more on the fame of the event.

4. Offer a different experience

What is your recipe for making every event a success? Do you do the same thing Americans do?

We don’t real­ly copy the US shows. Instead, we apply the tech­nique I used for music shows, in terms of sound and light. For the show, it’s a lit­tle bit like all oth­er com­bat sports. Then, we try to add a more fun dimen­sion, with con­tests or danc­ing dur­ing the events. In par­al­lel, bet­FIRST, a large online bet­ting com­pa­ny in Bel­gium, organ­is­es on-site bet­ting. It attracts a dif­fer­ent audi­ence. They don’t have that at the UFC, for exam­ple, and they are the inter­na­tion­al ref­er­ence for MMA.

5. Set achievable goals

Your events bring together between 3,000 and 5,000 people, which is a great turnout. What would be your goal for the future?

The goal is to con­tin­ue grow­ing, know­ing that in Octo­ber 2018, we host­ed 4,300 peo­ple. We’ll soon reach max­i­mum capac­i­ty with our venue, but we’ll keep plan­ning sev­er­al events there to get a series of sold-out events. And once we’re con­fi­dent, we’ll move up a lev­el. We may go towards Brus­sels, or even to France, where MMA is slow­ly being legalised.

If we did this event in Lille, for exam­ple, we could imag­ine attract­ing 9,000 peo­ple. We work with all the clubs and fight­ers in the north of France, and some­times in Paris. We are the event of choice for the French audi­ence because we are the clos­est and best organ­ised.

6. Choose a ticketing and access control solution

Why did you choose Weezevent to manage your ticketing and access control?

We used Weezevent from the first event because I used the free ver­sion in my pre­vi­ous job — for cus­tomer invi­ta­tions. And as the sys­tem is nice, and I was able to test it, I moved to the paid ver­sion. And I pre­fer Weezevent to Eventbrite because it’s bet­ter to use a Euro­pean solu­tion.

So far, we’ve sold tick­ets online, in gyms and at a few points of sale around the event. Then, on the day of the event, I rent Weezevent’s pro­fes­sion­al ter­mi­nals because we have to let in 3,000–4,000 peo­ple in an hour. I usu­al­ly rent 5–6 each time. I saw that you also offer cash­less pay­ments at events. I’ll take a look at it.

7. Find tips to sell more

Do you think you have a trick of your own to sell more tickets?

Yes, I think I’m doing some­thing that’s not in Weezevent’s stan­dard uses — I add a field in the pur­chase form that I call “fight­er code”. Each attendee gives a code obtained through the fight­ers’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels. This way, I can pay my fight­ers accord­ing to the num­ber of seats sold thanks to each of them. It helps us to fill the venue more eas­i­ly, and it gives them an extra bonus. It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

8. Believe in your passion

For all the event planners — or aspiring event-planners – out there, do you have any last experience to share?

I think that to organ­ise events, you have to have a pas­sion in you. Every­thing that revolves around events takes a lot of time. It is well-known that first events are often unprof­itable, this must not dis­cour­age you. You have to keep going until the event real­ly takes off. And then I think that Weezevent is a good solu­tion to make it easy to man­age your tick­et­ing. Once we have set our event up, all we have to do is fol­low the flow and receive mon­ey trans­fers every 2 weeks. It’s very con­ve­nient.

Thank you Manu, and con­grat­u­la­tions on all the past and future edi­tions of the Euro­pean Beat­down!

Find out more about the Euro­pean Beat­down on Face­book and YouTube — where videos get mil­lions of views! To organ­ise sim­i­lar­ly suc­cess­ful sport­ing events, dis­cov­er all the ben­e­fits of Weezevent by click­ing below:

Organ­ise a sports event

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