Titan FC’s Jeff Aronson: Putting Fans and Fighters First Kyle Symes February 7, 2014 Spotlight, UFC Titan Fighting Championship has a brand new lease on life. It’s all thanks to Jeff Aronson, the former chairman of Alchemist Management, and a new television broadcast deal with the CBS Sports Network. Aronson took time from setting up a stellar card for Feb. 28 to speak with The MMA Corner about the future of his organization. “I’m bringing a strong business acumen and a philosophy that’s different,” he said. Although virtually every promotion claims to put fighters and fans first, Aronson is taking that to a new level with some incentives. “We are giving the fans what they want and giving fighters the best platform to showcase their skills,” Aronson said. “We’re giving a bonus for each finish. We want guys to go in and put on the best show possible.” As is the case with any business owner, Aronson is optimistic and ambitious. However, he also seems to understand that a strong base is essential to growing the brand. “We need to do things that are financially responsible and not overextend,” he admitted. “Throwing money at something doesn’t always make it better. We have to learn from the mistakes of others.” Those mistakes Aronson mentioned are the failed experiments of organizations such as EliteXC and Strikeforce appearing on network television. The events put on by those promotions did draw in viewers, but the product didn’t always live up to the hype. Yet, as Gus Johnson infamously said, “Sometimes these things happen.” One guy that will draw fans in for Titan FC will be Jeff Curran. He had initially retired following his loss at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 9 in August 2013, but he will be returning at Titan FC 28 in April. Curran has competed in just about every major MMA promotion possible and sports a 34-16-1 overall record. “Jeff is an absolute legend, a pioneer in the sport,” Aronson said. “He understood the philosophy of what we are trying to do.” Another fighter who will no doubt cause fans to take an interest in Titan FC is Matthew Riddle, who is slated to fight UFC veteran Michael Kuiper at Titan FC 27 on Feb. 28 in Kansas City, Mo. The TUF alum had a very public falling out with UFC brass and was picked up by Bellator. Despite signing a contract, Riddle never stepped foot in a Bellator cage and it seemed his MMA career was over. “People can say what they want, but my experience with Matt has been terrific,” Aronson said. “He’s been incredibly cooperative with us.” Riddle’s accomplishments in the cage have been overshadowed by positive post-fight drug tests for marijuana. He failed his first test after his submission win against Chris Clements at UFC 149. Eight months later, Riddle failed his second test after defeating Che Mills via split decision at UFC on Fuel TV 7. Both victories were changed to no-contests and the second failed test resulted in Riddle’s release from the UFC. “Some don’t agree with his philosophy, but you can’t deny his talent,” Aronson said. “I’ve not had any issues with him, and I look forward to him putting on a show.” While those two signings made waves through the MMA media, they do not even involve the main event of Titan FC’s event on CBS Sports Network on Feb. 28. That honor goes to former Ultimate Fighter finalist and Tristar gym member Mike Ricci and former TUF contestant Jorge Gurgel. Ricci trains with some of the best fighters in the world, and even if Gurgel’s fight IQ isn’t the best, he does look to put on a show each time he’s in the cage. Throughout our conversation, Aronson stressed the idea of putting on a good show for the fans. Obviously, if a fighter puts on a good showing, no matter the promotion, the UFC is going to take interest. Whereas some promotions have hindered a fighter’s chances to achieve greater success, Aronson has no plans on holding people back. “Every guy on our roster has a ‘Zuffa-out’ clause,” Aronson revealed. He doesn’t want to compete with the UFC, and he has made that fact clear from the start. Instead of trying to take out the king of MMA, Aronson hopes to provide a launching pad for fighters to see the bright lights of the Octagon. “The rosters are so filled in the bigger promotions that it can sometimes take a while to get called back up,” he explained. “There are always going to be prospects looking to get their name out there, along with guys getting cut from the UFC that are in no man’s land. We are there to provide a national platform for fighters.” When Aronson was with Alchemist Management, he would sometimes have trouble finding fights for his clients. It was, in Aronson’s eyes, a “purgatory” where guys were stuck between the UFC and the rest of the MMA world. Titan FC aims to fill that void, and although no title matches are on the Feb. 28 card, expect to see gold soon. “The divisions are so stacked, we’re going to have a couple shows and see who’s really rising to the top,” Aronson said. “It’s not a tournament per se, but we’re going to see who’s beating who. In four or five shows, we should be close.” One area where the promotion isn’t stacked is in any of the women’s divisions. “I’m a fan of women’s MMA. I’ve worked with Liz Carmouche and Bec Hyatt, but I need to focus on what we have going on right now,” Aronson said. “If we could do a superfight or a one-off type deal, I would consider it, but for now we’re just going to focus on the men.” Fighters looking to sign with Titan FC can rest assured that financial gain for Aronson, as an already successful businessman, won’t come at their expense. As Aronson has pointed out before, money isn’t a motivating factor at this point in his life. “It’s about creating an opportunity for guys who train a few hours a day, five to six days a week, and giving them the chance to prove themselves,” Aronson said. “Nothing would make me happier than seeing my guys getting called up on a regular basis, because I’ll know I had something to do with that.” A promotion looking to fill fighters’ pockets, providing fights on national television and touting a philosophy built on helping fighters reach the UFC? Every guy not under a Zuffa or Bellator banner should be asking themselves why they haven’t signed on the dotted line.