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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