After soccer, Project X Paris continues its foray into the world of sport, becoming an official partner of the AEF Championship MMA league. AEF 4 took place in Rennes on October 14, and PXP was obviously present. And the show was on!

MMA, the new must-have sport

Initially seen as the ugly duckling of combat sports, MMA is gradually spreading across the globe. The story didn't get off to a good start, particularly in France, where the practice was banned for a long time, until 2020 to be precise. Too violent, too "barbaric", the discipline was looked down upon by its big brothers, who prided themselves on a form of superiority in relation to this new sport. What they failed to grasp was that MMA is far more complete than any individual combat sport. MMA encompasses everything from boxing and grappling to Thai, ju-jitsu and judo, and it's on the verge of surpassing all other combat sports in terms of popularity. In France, it's on the way to becoming one of the most closely followed sports, and we can thank the many champions such as Cédric Doumbe, Cyril Gane and Francis Ngannou, who trained with us for many years. We can also thank Conor McGregor, whose exuberant attitude has drawn the world's attention to a sport that was previously virtually unknown to the general public.

Thanks to the emulation created by the discipline's great champions, MMA is now legal in most large, densely populated countries, opening up huge market shares in terms of audience. Little by little, the sport is becoming part of popular culture, and in France this is reflected in a number of links with the worlds of rap and soccer, for example. We saw this for ourselves at the Cédric Doumbe fight a while back, which was attended by a huge number of soccer fans and rappers. In fact, MMA and rap have a number of points in common, starting with the fact that they are seen as the fifth wheel of sport or music, but have managed to establish themselves in the eyes of everyone, thanks to a real popular craze. Both are a reflection of our country's youth: diverse, determined and inventive, with a level that continues to climb. Numerous schools and clubs are springing up all over the country, increasing the overall competitiveness of the MMA breeding ground in France. The more people take an interest in the discipline, the more unique talents are discovered, and the higher the overall level.

Project X Paris partner of AEF Championship

With this in mind, numerous pro and amateur fighting leagues are springing up across the country. We've recently heard a lot about leagues such as the PFL or Arès (or even the UFC at international level, which also holds events in France), but we often forget to mention the many leagues opening up to amateurs. This status concerns a large majority of MMA practitioners in France, and is inevitably the pro leagues' number 1 talent pool. At Project X, we're extremely proud to announce that we've become partners of the amateur league AEF Championship, which organized its fourth MMA gala of the year, in Rennes. A colossal effort on the part of the league's members and Willy Sirope, the former Brazilian ju-jitsu world champion who founded the structure. The event took place at the Halle de la Courrouze on October 14. Eleven bouts, with a final 8 KOs or submissions, and a main event that ended with a fine victory for Patrick Habirora, it's fair to say that the show was on, and the people who attended the event all agreed that they were well-balanced, a good thing for the organization's credibility. Also present that day was a former rapper, Abou Debeing, who fought in the octagon and scored his first victory.

It's a wonderful event, and one we're delighted to be associated with at Project X Paris. We really got involved, since the weigh-in - that inevitable ritual before every fight which ensures that fighters don't exceed the weight required to stay in their category - took place in one of our stores! To be precise, the one in the Columbia shopping center in Rennes, and we salute Salim Belhaj and his team for all their organizational and logistical work on site. And it's fair to say that it was a packed house! The store was simply packed to the rafters, and the atmosphere was electric between the fighters, who judged each other with their eyes. A presentation of the fighters also took place in our shop, in the midst of a cheering crowd. Incredible memories for all those present at the store that evening. This AEF 4, which brings to a close a year full of promise for the AEF Championship, is exactly the kind of initiative - local, ambitious and inventive - that we at PXP approve of. We hope to see this league flourish, we look forward to collaborating with events of this kind again, and long live French MMA!