The current WBA heavyweight champion David Haye is known to be a big fan of mixed martial arts, and it seems he can’t wait for next month’s UFC 120 event in his own backyard – London, England.
“I’m going to be ringside for UFC 120 at the O2 Arena and I’m really looking forward to it,” Haye tells Sky Sports.
“The event has got Dan Hardy and Michael Bisping – two guys I really like to watch – doing their thing, and there are a lot of other British fighters on the card representing. I can’t wait to go there and show my support.”
Haye is currently in training for his next title defense against fellow Brit Audley Harrison in November, and unlike some of his boxing peers Haye feels that the rise of MMA has had a positive effect on his own sport.
“I think MMA has helped boxing, as it’s made promoters put on serious fights,” Haye says. “All these big recent fights involving Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have happened because the UFC has forced boxing to raise its game.”
For Haye the UFC still has the edge when it comes to putting on a show though.
“I know that when I sit down and watch a UFC show I’m going to get five or six competitive, quality match-ups. You’ll be lucky to see two of those if you go to your average boxing event. That’s why I’m a UFC fan.”
It’s undoubtedly a good thing for mixed martial arts in the UK to have a high profile star like Haye talking up the sport and that can only help in the continuing battle to raise the sport’s profile here.
At one point he says, “I think you can be a fan of both and I think they compliment each other well,” and I think that’s a message both sports should be getting behind.
It’s also nice to see that Sky Sports, who will play host to Haye’s upcoming fight in the UK, are also beginning to extend their coverage of the sport after securing the rights to The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Again it’s all part of the process of legitimizing the sport in the British Isles and beyond.