Triad Combat: What you need to know about the latest novelty to hit combat sports
After overseeing the introduction of Jake Paul as a professional prizefighter, Triller Fight Club are set to launch a combat sports novelty which will feature several MMA and boxing veterans - but can it capture fans' imagination?
Some three decades ago, and before the mixed martial arts became the multibillion-dollar industry it is today, a host of combat sports enthusiasts sat down to brainstorm an idea which would later become the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Initially intended as something of an infomercial for the Gracie brand of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the original idea was to attract champions of various fighting disciplines into an arena, have them fight and then ultimately declare Royce Gracie the victor. That last part would eventually come true, as would the invitations to fighters of various different styles and in-ring experience, but the actual arena to host the event was the source of some significant headaches.
Rorion Gracie and the various other founders, including Art Davie and Campbell McLaren, eventually settled on the first iteration of the Octagon as we have come to know it - but before that, a range of other ideas were conceived with the intention of drawing publicity: an electrified fence was discussed, as was - and we're serious here - a moat surrounding the fighting area which would be patrolled by live crocodiles.
While the idea of fighters potentially being torn asunder by wild animals didn't last long, the point was that new combat sports entities often start at the most reductive element of planning and work their way up from there, and this is a strategy we've seen in recent years with the surge in popularity of bare-knuckle boxing, bare-knuckle MMA and even tag-team MMA.
If it's outlandish enough, it will sell. Or at least that's the idea. And this is the philosophy that Triller Fight Club appear to be following with their upstart project 'Triad Combat'.
In their own words: "Triad Combat is a revolutionary, new combat team sport which incorporates boxing and MMA rules in an aggressive, fast-paced manner with the fighters competing in a specially designed triangular ring over two-minute rounds featuring professional boxers competing against professional mixed martial arts fighters.
"The specific motto of leveling the playing field between the two sports utilizing crossover gloves and with holding allowed is meant to offer boxing and MMA fighters an even battleground where neither opponent has a greater advantage."
Per organizer Ryan Kavanaugh, the idea behind the show is to attract a younger audience because MMA is now seen as an "old sport" among the younger generation.
"UFC is an old sport now. The kids aren’t watching it," he said to Reuters. "The UFC isn’t giving the 18 to 27-year-olds what they want to see. So we’re hopefully bringing something forward that they do want to see.
"It’s more exciting, it’s faster-paced and better looking. It’s shot like a movie or a video game, and it’s surrounded by culture."
Top of the bill is ex-UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir and Bulgarian former world boxing title challenger Kubrat Pulev.
The undercard is sprinkled with a host of fighters like Mike Perry and Matt Mitrione from the MMA side of things and Brian Vera and Michael Seals from the boxing world.
The event will be broadcast on PPV via FITE TV, and goes down this Saturday, November 27, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, which is home to MLB team the Texas Rangers.
Much like Triller's fight cards with Jake Paul, the event will be partitioned with musical performances. Rock legends Metallica are scheduled to perform at Saturday's event, with their 58-year-old lead singer James Hetfield apparently designated by Triller as an idol of Generation Z.
Triller's association with Jake Paul was lightning in a bottle, as they hitched themselves to a proven and saleable commodity - but this latest foray into fight sports seeks to replace Paul with a novelty ruleset and a 'what would happen if' pander to combat curiosity.
The pay-per-view numbers will be telling if Triller chooses to release them after the event, and will reveal whether this new peculiarity can capture the interest of fans in an increasingly crowded combat sports landscape.
By John Balfe
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.