The UFC went behind my back. Promoter vs. Manager lesson. Some tricks from promoters and managers. Picture: Gokhan Saki winning the K-1 Hawaii GP. During my career in the Fight Game business, I have been a promoter, producer, and manager, which resulted in a front-row seat for all the tricks in the book.
The UFC went behind my back.
In my previous blog, I wrote about my experience with Igor Vovchanchin. I made a highlight tape and informed K-1 and Pride FC about the champion we promoted and managed. Then I would lose the fighter to Pride FC as they went around my management. They would award their offer to a person who they worked with exclusively.
I did some good business with the UFC in the beginning when they were still bleeding money. Semmy Schilt fought Pete Williams and won at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Semmy’s second fight was against Josh Barnett, and he suffered a controversial loss. He got blood from Josh in his eye, so according to the rules and me, the ref should have stopped the fight.). But the UFC gave a release letter on my request as I wanted to move to Pride FC with Semmy Schilt, which worked well.
Golden Glory has to build heavyweight fighter Dennis Stojnic to an undefeated status.
It’s now November 2008, and the UFC is doing well. We have built a new heavyweight fighter Denis Stojnic who at that time is undefeated. I produced a highlight tape and sent the video to Joe Silva, the matchmaker of the UFC. He sent me a few emails, but the bottom line was that the UFC was not interested. Denis asked me many times if he could fight in the UFC, and I showed him the email traffic with Joe Silva and informed him that UFC was not interested yet.
Two months pass, and Denis knocks on my door and tells me he will be fighting in the UFC. I am baffled, I asked him, but I never had any contact with the UFC. He then told me some friend in Miami he knew arranged it for him with a promoter from the UFC. He meant matchmaker Joe Silva. So, I contacted Joe Silva and asked if this was true. He answered yes, sure, and confirmed what Denis said. By now, I was furious, so I asked Joe why he would deal with this person while he knew I was the manager. Golden Glory built this guy’s undefeated status.
UFC Joe’s lame excuse, managers and promoters, pay attention here.
Joe said well, you have to sort that out with the fighter. The fighter chooses who will represent him, says Joe. Like PrideFC did to me by rewarding Kawasaki with a contract for Vovchanchin to fight in Pride FC. I answered, but I have sent you a management contract. With the mail, I ship a highlight tape of Denis, and those are our events. Well, you have to deal with Denis about this. So I made an appointment with Denis. Now here is where things get tricky:
If I disapproved of him fighting in the UFC, he would fight anyway. Others in the team would follow as the management contracts would then prove to be worthless. His so-called “manager” friend of Denis turns out to be somebody with no experience at all. But he gets a fighter in the UFC, so more could follow. I decided to do the following: I said ok, Dennis, you have my blessing. But nobody else represents will represent you.
Your team and your fights you do for Golden Glory, he agreed. I then informed Denis that it was a wrong decision and predicted they would use his undefeated status. The UFC matchmaker will destroy Denis by putting him up against their upcoming champion. I told Dennis he would need some build-up fights in the UFC. He should gain momentum and experience for the longevity of his career. One of the great things about Denis was that he was ready to fight anybody. But he needed to be protected by his management. As a promoter and manager, I knew what I was talking about.
It’s now February 2009, and Denis Stojnic is fighting against nobody else than Cain Valasquez. Denis, his first UFC, fought and lost by TKO (punches) in round 2.
His second loss comes against Stefan Struve in Germany. And Denis is cut from the UFC. The UFC started to email me bad publicity about Denis. I did not understand at first, but his Miami “friend manager provided this information.” They got into some payment disagreements, and then the mud throwing started. Denis came and complained about his Miami manager. I told him you should have listed to me in the first place.
I like Denis as he came to train and wanted to fight, but now it has become much more challenging to get the right fights for him. The UFC also got some bad karma. Denis caught Struve with some vicious shots and elbows, which resulted in one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history. The result was that the headlines in the German press with bloody pictures of that fight did not go unnoticed. It resulted in the cancelation of TV contracts and caused the growth of the UFC to slow down in Europe. This cancelation was terrible news for the UFC, especially in Germany. I did not fight the UFC about this dispute but learned from the situation).
Struve vs Stojnic bloodbath
A great example of conducting “business” as a manager I discuss in my book. There are more stories like this, which I describe in great detail.
Indeed as a manager and promoter, I pulled my pranks when it came to strengthening my position.
As I have been on both sides of the aisle, I must be honest. So with this, two examples of how I manipulated K-1 to sign another Golden Glory fighter unwillingly.
I remember that Chalid Arrab was booked in Japan to fight the Japanese fighter “Amanda” who was a known boxer. As Chalid (nicknamed die Faust “the Fist” was a boxer, the Japanese thought it was a great matchup.
The Switch trick.
April 3rd, 2007. The K-1 books Golden Glory fighter Chalid to fight Amanda in a K-1 Japan event. But Chalid gets sick two weeks before the fight. Instead of canceling the battle, we made a deal with Chalid to say nothing and fly with us to Japan. Together with the team, we brought Gokhan Saki, who the K-1 did not want to sign before. One day before the fight in Japan, we report that Chalid is sick. But at the press conference, Gokhan Saki was ready. He even brought his fighting shorts (purely “coincidental,” of course).
The worst for the Japanese who accepted the fight with Saki. Amanda was a boxer and trained for Chalid, who was a boxer himself. The result was that Gokhan Saki made the fight into a low kick festival. The result is that the Japanese guy’s leg turns into a raw, bloody mess. Gokhan Saki won by ko in round two. The Japanese K-1 promoter and Amanda were not amused. The K-1 was pissed, did not offer Saki a contract, and tried to blame the management.
Herbey is another example with the same strategy but another excuse.
It’s now 2008, and the Hawaii K-1 GP qualification tournament has one more open spot. The K-1 reserved this available spot for Chalid Arrab. You can apply Murphy’s law to this case. Chalid trained hard for this fight. But for some unforeseen reason, the United States did not give Chalid a visa to travel to Hawaii.
The travel visa was supposed to be arranged two weeks before the fight. But we had to wait till two days before departure. We did not inform the K-1 about this. Upon arrival in Hawaii, we told the K-1 that Chalid might be coming tomorrow because of visa issues. But we knew they would not give him the visa in time. The promoter did not have any choice.
Team Rebel, there are too many Golden Glory fighters winning GPs.
Indeed the next day, at the press conference, a familiar face, Gokhan Saki. The K-1 is exceptionally pissed, so I agreed I would not use Golden Glory T-shirts. So we became “Team Rebell,” with the same faces and another name on the shirt. There is simply no way to arrange another fighter for the tournament. Saki is entering the qualification tournament. He wins the Hawaiian GP by defeating all three opponents by knockouts.
The worst scenario for the K-1, another Golden Glory fighter makes it to the final 16 in K-1 Japan. Saki continues his superiority by defeating Ray Sefo and Ruslan Karaev and securing third place in Tokyo’s Heavyweights K-1 GP finals.
As a promoter, you need to protect your business model. Sometimes, you have to be creative.
I understand the UFC. It’s much more interesting to take away potential fighters with outstanding records from other organizations than to buy the promotion/brand. They bought Pride FC and Strikeforce but never got Fedor. This example is just one of many.
The UFC was right not to want to do a co-promotion with M-1. And it was a logical and reasonable decision to make an exception with Mayweather and MC Gregor promotions. All parties benefited together, and the half-billion $ fight became a reality.
You can’t blame MC Gregor for creating his own company. The same goes for Mayweather or Golden Boy Promotions. Those fighters all started as fighters at some promotion and learned along the way. The big ones become a promoter themself. Or they were a promoter and became managers.
I would not have missed the fight game business for the world.
Bas Boon Ten Rules for Success
- Embrace change & stay away from negative people.
- Focus on the things you can control, and train your brain to focus on positive outcomes.
- Knowledge is power. Practiced knowledge is more powerful, use wisely and continue searching for more.
- Take calculated risks!
- Study and admire other people’s success. Never be jealous!
- Never give up, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and failures.
- Make time for yourself, create your alone space, and meditate.
- Nobody owes you anything, visualize and work on your success.
- Never feel sorry for yourself, don’t hold a grudge.
- Learn from a previous mistake, and never show weakness.
Bas Boon Quotes:
It’s better to try ten times than do nothing and wonder what if.
It’s how you respond to anything and make it work for you.
The listeners win (I had great difficulties with this one, but I am conditioning my subconscious mind to become a master listener)
The UFC, politics, and Bas Boon about doping allegations.
(C) Bas Boon www.basboon.com