By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
ALREADY establishing itself as the number one sports network in the country, ESPN5 continues to evolve anchored on its thrust of not only spotlighting established sports but equally discovering “hidden gems” in Philippine sports.
Such advocacy continues for ESPN5 with its newly formed partnership with Bahrain-based mixed martial arts promotion Brave Combat Federation.
A long-term deal, ESPN5, with the tie-up, will be the broadcast partner of Brave in the country, which officially kicks off with the first-ever Manila event of Brave in March, headlined by Filipino world champion Stephen “The Sniper” Loman.
Finding something in common in Brave’s vision of developing talents, ESPN5 said to partner with the MMA company made sense and that it sees the newly formed partnership as being a fruitful one.
“ESPN5 is now the country’s number one sports network and to be the number one sports network it just does not mean we cover the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association), Gilas [Pilipinas], PSL (Philippine Superliga) and all these established sports. A big part of this advocacy is discovering the hidden gems in Philippine sports,” said TV5 President Vincent Reyes at the launch of their partnership with Brave early this week.
“I mean, [skateboarder] Margielyn Didal, [weightlifter] Hidilyn Diaz, [boxer] Jerwin Ancajas, I think they made a big splash on the world stage on the TV5, Sports 5 screen. That was where we first saw them. ESPN5 prides itself in being able to bring the exploits of Filipino athletes when they compete and perform here and abroad to the homes of every Filipino,” he added.
Mr. Reyes went on to say that they are aiming to do the same for Filipino fighters showcasing their wares in Brave.
“This partnership with Brave is the same. Very few people have heard of Stephen Loman’s name. Now on March 15 the Filipinos will have the chance to see him live, fighting for the first time in his home soil against a very tough fighter. And as usual, ESPN5 is going to be there to bring you the action minute by minute, second by second,” said Mr. Reyes, referring to the Brave event dubbed “Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Adding, “This is part of what defines us as a network. It’s really part of our DNA; to bring not only the established sports but also those upcoming and especially those where our very own Filipino athletes are competing.”
It is also the same direction that Brave is banking on as it excitedly partnered with ESPN5.
“[Coming to the Philippines] is something we were looking forward to for a very long time. This event is for them, the Filipino fighters to be recognized back in their home. And the future is very bright with help from ESPN5,” said Brave President Mohammed Shahid during the launch.
Brave 22 will be headlined by the title fight between Filipino bantamweight champion Loman of Team Lakay against Elias Boudegzdame, who is fighting out of France.
Co-main event is the flyweight clash of American Shorty Torres against Swede Amir Albazi.
Also seeing action at Storm of Warriors are Filipinos Jeremy Pacatiw, Mark Alcoba, Rolando Dy, Harold Banario, Rex De Lara, Jayson Margallo, John Cris Corton, Jason Vergara and Jomar Pa-Ac.
While the Brave brand is relative new among Filipinos, ESPN5 is not seeing it as much of a challenge even as it said that fight fans should expect a world-class presentation come fight night.
“I think we have proven that we can promote fighters and sports. For the past year we did not just do basketball but other sports as well … And as you have seen with our boxing promotions we have done a pretty good job to get the noise across. It is not much of a challenge for us. We have done this and proven ourselves with Gilas to boxing and building sports,” said ESPN5 Head Lloyd Manaloto.
“We are fully into the partnership. Production-wise we are going to be testing new technologies and do something new during the coverage. Expect something world-class,” he added.