Behind the Scenes with Ricky Vasquez Josh Davis May 23, 2011 UFC Behind every great MMA fighter is an arsenal of corner-men, managers, training partners and sponsors. Each plays an integral role in taking a fighter from a talented amateur to a well-regarded, fan favored professional. Strong management and a great gym are essential to becoming an MMA star, and Ricky Vasquez and Grudge Training Center are filling that role for their fighters every day. Ricky Vasquez has been a fan of mixed martial arts for years, however he has not always been involved with the sport. Mr. Vasquez started out in telecom sales and finance. After losing a bet to a former manager at one of the telecom companies that he was working for, Vasquez was forced to do some MMA training at T’s KO fight club. Training was nothing new for Vasquez, who at the time had a background in boxing. After his first day of training at T’s KO gym, Vasquez was hooked. He fell in love with not only the training but the atmosphere and people as well. From there Vasquez got into kicking boxing and using his new found training to help him get into better shape. Additionally, he started to take some private lessons. After showing significant improvement in his training, Trevor Wittman of Grudge Training Center asked him if he wanted to come to Saturday Pro Training Classes for Sparring. Vasquez jumped at this opportunity. Vasquez stated that this was a great learning experience for him. He eventually started referring to Saturday sparring as Bloody Nose Saturday because he would get his butt kicked by the pros. After a few sparring sessions where he would get his butt kicked and keep coming back for more, the pros began to accept him. His never quit, never say die attitude not only earned him the respect of the professional fighters but it also put him on Wittman’s radar. Wittman would soon start training Vasquez one on one. From the close relationship that he was able to form with Wittman arose discussions about the possibility of Grudge Sports Management. The trust that Vasquez had gained by training and spending time with the fighters combined with his business and sales background made him the perfect person to start Grudge Sports Management. After spending over one year thinking, contemplating and coming up with a business plan, Grudge Sports Management was born. Vasquez began to work with both amateur and professional fighters related to both marketing themselves and branding themselves so that they could further their fighting careers. This is not all that Vasquez does though. His days revolve around the fighters and bettering their careers. Vasquez wakes up every morning and immediately starts his focus on the fighters. He starts off by sending and returning emails to fighters, sponsors, promoters, and media. Once this is complete, he is off to the gym for his own training. He attends practice with the team at 10:00am. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays he will work on specific techniques until 11:00 am and then it is time for cardio training. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 12:00pm it is sparring with the pros. Once training is completed, it is all about the fighters. Vasquez meets with the fighters that he needs to meet with to go over a variety of topics from sponsorships, to payments, to who and when they might be fighting next. For many, this would be the end of their work day. For Vasquez, this really is just the beginning. After he has met with the fighters and gone over their specific game plans, he then goes to work continuing to build his contacts for the fighters. He makes sure that he keeps good working relationships with promoters, sponsors as well as the media. Then in the evening, Vasquez will continue his training. He will go back to the gym and get in his weight lifting and do some type of cardio to make sure that he stays in shape for his fighting career. This is not a 9-5 business, so once he is done with his evening workout he is back to the phones and emails continuing to ensure his good working relationship with everybody he can. Vasquez is training to be a fighter himself however, he makes sure that will never interfere with his obligations to Grudge Sports Management. Taking care of the professional needs of his fighters is his top priority. In addition to doing as much as he can for the fighters Vasquez is also an intrigal part of the management duties of Grudge Training Center. Vasquez is instrumental in helping Wittman manage, advertise, market and grow the membership of Grudge Training Center. Vasquez spends so much of his time on the fighters and the training center that sometimes he has very little time for his own training. When this happens, the professional fighters will get on Vasquez and remind him that he needs to chase his dreams and train and get prepared for his own fighting career. Grudge Training Center is one giant family; verybody that is a part of the center wants everybody else to succeed and they are all willing to do what ever it takes for that to happen. Vasquez manages 22 of the current fighters at Grudge Training Center. Out of the 22 fighters, 14 of them are professional and the other eight are up and coming fighters that will soon be on the professional circuit. Vasquez stated that the key to staying on top of all of his fighters needs is being organized, a trick that he learned from his years in sales. Without being properly organized there is no way that Vasquez could effectively manage his fighters. Vasquez credits his organizational skills with how well Grudge Sports Management is doing. In addition to organization, Vasquez indicated that the next most important aspect is helping the fighters to brand themselves. It is very important to get fighters to realize that they are a business entity, they are their own brand and their own product. Once he has gotten fighters to understand this key aspect of the business, it is much easier for him to help them build a fan base and a following that will help market them as their careers progress. Vasquez will do what ever it takes to help his fighters reach their potential as well as their dreams. Vasquez is one of the most important people in a fighter’s life that you will never hear about. He does what he does because that is his passion. Vasquez has a thankless job but he does it as well as anybody out there. If you are an up and coming fighter or an established pro, Ricky Vasquez is the man that you want to back your fighting career. He will do the little things that make your life hell and he will do them with class and tact. Ricky Vasquez and Grudge Sports Management is the perfect team for any fighter. For more information on the Grudge Training Center please visit http://grudgetrainingcenter.com and for more information on Ricky Vasquez and Grudge Sports Management please visit http://www.grudgesports.net.