Behind-the-Scenes of Creating a Live MMA Event

Ninja Ricardo (right) during the weigh-ins before his fight at Lonestar Beatdown. Ricardo won via anaconda choke in the 1st round.

Our very own Ricardo Talavera (right) during the weigh-ins before his fight at Lonestar Beatdown 1 in College Station, TX. Ricardo won via anaconda choke in the 1st round.

For the general public, attending a live MMA event can be a very exciting experience. Fans usually walk away satisfied as they take in the visual spectacle that is the explosive nature of Mixed Martial Arts. From seeing the fighters twisting their opponents’ limbs at unnatural angles for the submission to the brawl-for-it-all nature of combatants going for a knockout, there is no doubt that watching this sport live can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the casual fan.

 
What most people do not see, however, is the amount of detail and hard work that goes into producing a live event. As a USACA-licensed Official for Lonestar Beatown, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing all the effort that goes into providing a succesful experience for everyone involved. And it’s certainly not only the fans that the promoter has to worry about! Many other aspects behind-the-scenes have to be taken care of in order for an event to become successful. A portion of this includes compliance with athletic commissions, the relationship between the event and the gyms involved in training fighters, event promotion, and of course making sure everything flows efficiently when fight night arrives.
 
Here in Texas, as with most other states where MMA is legal, not just any Joe-Schmo-Dana-White-Wannabe off the street can be a fight promoter. One has to obtain an official promoter’s license before they are legally allowed to host an MMA event. This role is reserved for those who have the desire and wherewithall to complete the tedious application process to become licensed by the state athletic commission. The cost can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, all for the right to host MMA events. And just like promoters, all ringside officials must be licensed by the state as well. This includes timekeepers, referrees, scorecard managers, and judges.
 
Next, there is the task of setting up the fight card. This is placed in the charge of the event matchmaker, who always has a difficult task ahead of him. The reasons are numerous! First of all, matching up fighters isn’t just about finding two guys the same weight and telling them to go at it. There are other aspects to consider, such as the amount of experience, tangible skill-level, and the stylistic matchup between opponents. For this, the matchmaker has to create and nurture a relationship with the coaches & trainers of prospective fighters. It is through this and the trust implied that the matchmaker can truly gauge who should be fighting whom and whether they are truly ready to step into the cage. Once the bouts are set the matchmaker has to keep working as fighters can drop out at any time, for any reason. Nonetheless, it is the matchmaker’s job to ensure that the fans see exciting fights on the night of the live event, and enough of them to feel like they got their money’s worth.
 
Also, once the promoter arranges for the ideal venue for the event, the event has be marketed to a cross-section of casual fans, die-hards, and gym all across the local area. This typically involves a grass-roots effort of the fighters and the gyms they represent. Usually, those associated with the gladiators involved make up a healthy portion of the attendance. Above and beyond that, additional promotional channels include print publications and the all-powerful internet. Websites like txmma.com, mopthemats.com, and mma.tv do a great job of promoting MMA events locally here in Houston.
 
Finally, on the night of the live event, there are about a million things going on at the same time behind-the-scenes. From the officials and fighters all the way down to the ushers and medics, everyone has a place to be and a role to play. The fighters warm up with their coaches, the ushers make sure fans get seated in orderly fashion, the officials and ringside physician take their places, etc. The event can only go well through the cohesive teamwork of everyone involved. Remember, It’s not just knockouts and tapouts guys.

We’ll see you at the fights on March 28st!

 
 
12354951572lonestar8_c2 Lone Star Beatdown 8  brings amateur cage fighting to Houston on  March 28th 2009. The venue for the event is the Houston Arena Theater. Tickets – $20/$35/$50 now available at www.ticketmaster.com.
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2 Comments on “Behind-the-Scenes of Creating a Live MMA Event”

  1. ThinkAlpha Says:

    Best seats in the house!

    I’ll be there timekeeping and keeping ring girls safe from thugs and goons!


  2. This was the most interesting post I have read the whole week!


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