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FIGHTER OPPORTUNITY

The UFC is obviously the “Super Bowl” of fight promotions for Mixed Martial Arts. Anyone that tells you different clearly is delusional. Every aspiring MMA fighter should want to compete at the highest levels of the sport once they’ve proven themselves within their region or respected high level mid-tier promotions like West Coast Fighting, Tachi, RFA, Legacy, Showdown, MFC, etc. However, not every fighter on the planet will have that opportunity to compete in the UFC after climbing through the ranks of the other promotions.

There is an argument that can be made who currently is the number two fight promotion in the world; Bellator or World Series of Fighting. Even One FC out of Asia is quickly making a name for themselves and probably falls within the top five promotions in the World. From a financial perspective, Bellator has the full backing of parent company Viacom making it a conglomerate within the industry. From a roster perspective, I would argue Bellator has a deeper roster of talent than WSOF in various weight classes. However, if you were to match some of the Bellator champions or biggest names on their roster against some of the best WSOF fighters, I believe WSOF has a strong case for going head to head against Bellator in terms of the best talent pound for pound.

Either way, competition amongst these fight promotions is good for the fighters and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Fighters need opportunity like any traditional industry needs competing businesses.  As mentioned above, not every fighter can or will fight in the UFC. Just like not every person can work for Microsoft, that’s why you have competing business such as Oracle, IBM, Apple and the list goes on. I’m a firm believer in bringing fight opportunity and assisting fighters at making money. If fighting is your sole income and you have no other financial resources, then at the end of the day, fighting ultimately becomes about making money and providing for your family and yourself.

Therefore, if the opportunity is placed in front of you to compete at any level of the sport and the money is right, then it’s in your best interest to seriously consider what your being offered in terms of a fight contract and ensure you’re working with your manager and or attorney that the documents you sign will enable to you to compete and have further options. Like I said, bringing fight opportunity is a key component of a fight manager’s job and providing the best advice possible. I personally do not steer a fighter in any one direction when opportunity is provided. That decision must ultimately come from the fighter as they need to live with their decision and compete without distraction. The same goes for regional fights, opportunity must be brought to the fighter, but ultimately it’s the fighter’s decision along with their trainers to accept the fight and follow through with their commitment to bang.

I wish you all the success with your MMA career,

Dave Hirschbein

MMAGOLD Owner/Fight Manager

THE ROLE OF A FIGHT MANAGER…

I’m often asked by aspiring fighters about the role of fight managers and whether they are really needed.  My short answer is “no”, a fight manager is not needed in the beginning of your career.  What is needed is somebody you “the fighter” can trust and rely on to give you sound advice.  Whether that’s your parents, a friend, or a fellow fighter, it’s important that you know whomever you’ve entrusted has your best interest at heart and understands the MMA landscape at a basic level.

A trainer may act as your interim fight manager at the beginning of your career.  Although I’m a firm believer that a trainer and a fight manager are two entirely different roles, a trainer can also be someone you trust as you navigate the regional MMA scene.  Once you’ve become more familiar with the business side of MMA and your fight record is growing, I would then suggest a professional fight manager be brought in to oversee your career.  Word of caution when seeking out fight managers; ultimately whoever you decide upon, should also have an established relationship with your trainer, or at the very least, your trainer and fight manager need to build a solid working relationship.  It will help, knowing your inner circle is on the same page and shares a common goal in guiding you with the best training and management possible.

Another common question that comes up is “ What you should pay your fight manager?”.   While your trainer may already take a cut of your purse, it’s standard in the industry to pay your manager a percentage as well.  This is a negotiation between you and your in-coming manager and is based solely on the level of service they will provide.   A fight manager’s role is not just to obtain your fights (that’s called a fight finder) but also to oversee and coordinate your fights, obtain sponsorships/endorsements, prepare fight gear, obtain medicals, work with the media, book travel and assist corner teams, etc.  It’s a very wide spectrum of work a manager must do behind the scenes.  Your manager will also take a cut of any cash sponsors which they, themselves obtain as this is industry standard.   Again, you will need to negotiate with your manager how much they will be taking in terms of sponsorship money obtained.  If your manager is good at obtaining the right fights, legitimate sponsorships and all the other necessary items that go with being a fight manager, then they are worth every dollar you spend on them.  Too often, a fighter may not have representation of any sort and they are fed to the wolves by unscrupulous promoters.  Don’t be that guy…

Once you’ve made your selection as to whom your fight manager is going to be, it’s best you put it down on paper; for legal reasons, to cover yourself and your manager.  You can obtain the legal documentation from your state’s Athletic Commission, along with adding any addendum’s you and your manager feel are necessary.  Always remember to include a buy-out clause or arbitration in your contract; should you feel the need to leave your manager, assuming they have not performed the duties of the contract and of course, you will need to determine the length of the contract.

The next step in working with your fight manager is determining your career path.  Most fighters start out in their region climbing the ranks of the local fight promotions.  Does your manager know the local promotions and does he have established relationships with them?  Or better yet, do your manager’s promotional contacts extend outside your region, should obtaining local fights prove challenging for you?   It’s a common problem once you start to build a name for yourself but aren’t quite eligible for one of the big shows yet.  At this point you will need to find a higher level, mid-tier promotion, to further develop your game and name outside your region.

There are many, great, mid-tier promotions out there that can prepare you for the MMA big leagues, but it’s your manager who ultimately will need to utilize his relationships and match you with the right promotion.  Next, are you destined for one of the big shows? At that point it’s critical for your manager to have a good working relationship with the Matchmakers and Owners of the largest fight promotions in the world.  When trying to get picked up by one of the big promotions, it’s not enough to just place calls, tweet’s or emails.  Your manager should be in regular contact with the big shows while you’re developing your game in the region, letting them know who you are and continuing to market your fighting skills, via regular con calls, photo’s, media highlight clips, editorials and more.  At the end of the day, it’s your manager’s job to create a buzz about you, while partnering with the local and national media scene to further get your name out there.

I wish you all the success with your MMA career,

Dave Hirschbein
MMAGOLD Owner/Fight Manager

OBTAINING REGIONAL SPONSORSHIPS WITHIN MMA

MMA sponsorships can be viewed as a key vehicle to supplement a fighter’s income, or product needs at any level of the sport.  From the aspiring amateur fighter to the highest levels of the game, all fighters rely on product and cash sponsorships at times.  When you watch a UFC, BELLATOR or WSOF event, you probably notice sponsor logos on the fighter’s shorts and banner.  While sponsorship at that level is an entirely different market with large national brands, fast up-start companies, etc., it’s not the main purpose of this blog.  Rather, I want to focus on obtaining regional sponsorships, as 100% of fighters who ultimately end up in the big league promotions of MMA, started their careers in their respected regions.  I’m often asked by fighters, “What is the best way to go about obtaining product or cash sponsorships?”.  Whether you’re an up and coming big name regional fighter, or someone who nobody has heard of yet, it’s important you take the time and get involved in your own career to market yourself, while at the same time continuing the rigorous MMA training and fighter lifestyle that your journey to the top takes you on.  It’s not enough to expect sponsorship opportunities to fall into your lap, or for your MMA Manager or Trainer to do everything for you in the region in terms of obtaining sponsorships.  Therefore; I will share with you, the reader, what I share with my own fight team about some helpful tips in obtaining regional sponsorships.

Just about all fighters use some form of social media, i.e.; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., as a way of communicating who they are and what they have been doing within MMA.  But, just doing social media is not enough to educate potential sponsors on why they should invest in you with product, cash or both.  It takes you; the fighter, to get outside of your comfort zone and speak with local businesses within the community you live in.   Think of it this way, every day you wake up and you probably interact with local business.  You may visit a traditional gym for strength and conditioning, you might see your dentist, a chiropractor, a mechanic, your bail bondsman, eat at a restaurant, etc. For years you’ve been visiting these establishments, doing one-way business with them.  Have you ever considered approaching these same businesses and instead of giving them ‘your’ money for their services, instead ask to speak with the owner or someone with authority.  Explain to them you are an aspiring fighter from your local town and rely heavily on local sponsorships to support your MMA career ambitions.  Further, you will want to explain to whomever it is you’re speaking to, that ultimately you’re trying to build a long term “partnership” rather than just asking for a one time “sponsorship”.  Get them involved in your careers, get them excited about you, get them to your MMA gym, get them to a fight. Bottom line: just be yourself, and get them to understand MMA is a mainstream sport and you’re a part of it.  Explain to them that you will be proud to represent their company logo on your fight gear and will further promote their brand through social media, interviews, post-fight win shout-outs, and photos.  While I believe not everyone you speak with will instantly want to assist you, some most likely will.  It’s no different than traditional sales, it’s a numbers game.  The more businesses you approach, the hit rate of interest will be that much greater.  And of course, you will want to return to the businesses that supported you after your fight, with a framed, autographed picture of you representing their brand in the cage.  Your sponsor; most likely will hang it proudly in their place of business and tell other potential “future partners” that they sponsor the local BADASS!

I wish you all the success with your MMA career,

Dave Hirschbein

MMAGOLD Owner/Fight Manager