Few MMA media types and fans know exactly what goes on when it comes to putting on a show.

From the outside looking in, the casual fan will see a cage in the middle of an arena, some TV cameras, and fighters making their way into battle. It looks like a relatively well-oiled machine.

It’s never quite that simple.

The UFC has an army of staffers whose jobs are to make a show happen. They have a legion of bodies and a virtually limitless budget.

For 14 years with the Maximum Fighting Championship, a very small group that I was part of made events come to life. We used wit, savvy, expertise and experience to make every show better than the last in one way or another.

Last week, the inaugural Prestige FC event was launched, and now looking back, it is really quite something that it all came together with pretty much three people responsible for the madness.

Prestige FC owner Derek Daku, CEO and matchmaker Cord Crowthers, and myself in the role of director, had to pack a lot of punch into making the show come to life. It was just the second fully-sanctioned professional mixed martial arts event in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, and the first hosted by a homegrown company. The first event was the recent UFC Fight Night held in Saskatoon. Needless to say, when the UFC comes into a city, they tell everyone what’s what and how high to jump.

It’s entirely different for a first-time promotion, and certainly with a brand-new governing body. The provincial commission in Saskatchewan also made its debut with the UFC Fight Night and they had to have a much more hands-on role when not dealing with the biggest promotion in the world, which runs its own show with extremely limited interference.

Early Days

Off the hop, the first thing that needed to be done was get all the Commission requirements fulfilled when it came to who owned and operated the show. Then began the hunt.

As many fighters as there are now in MMA, very few want to take any risks. It’s understandable on one front. The money isn’t what it used to be for fighters. Guys who once made $1,000+$1,000 are now seeing their pay cut by at least 25%. A new promotion like Prestige FC will try to offset expenses if possible in ways including paying for medicals (or at least setting them up) and covering the majority, if not all, of the meal expenditures when the fighters arrive.

But on the other hand, there are fighters who love to talk and pretty much leave it at that. The phrase ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’ is often a fighter’s mantra, yet there are a just a handful of fighters who will actually step up. Many MMA fighters are now stacking their records much in the same way boxers have in the past – beat up as many tomato cans as possible to rack up the ‘W’s and wait by the phone.

It’s understandable that fighters want the big money at the UFC can offer, and to a lesser extent the Triple-A shows such as Bellator and WSOF. But those contracts are few and far between, especially with recent news of a potentially dramatic UFC cut to its roster.

So finding fighters is not that easy. Certainly there are ones that want a fight and are willing to see what’s in store for them by building their record. But if you want a ‘name’ fighter on your Double- or Single-A show, it’s tough sledding. You need to find locals with decent records who are trying to re-establish themselves or have, for whatever reason, not captured the attention of bigger shows. You’ll also need a needle in the haystack like a former UFC or The Ultimate Fighter competitor who needs a fight or two to get back in the major league’s picture. The rub there is that they have to know that a smaller show is not going to shell out big money because of who they once were or what they once did.

Ducks in a row

Once you’ve assembled a fight card, well, good luck keeping it intact. Injuries are part of the game and so is the fact that fighters pull out for a variety of reasons.

Guys get hurt, but how or why they get hurt a week or two from fight night is beyond frustrating. What are you doing rolling with world champions or full-out with your fight right around the corner?

And it’s amazing how many fighters wave off a fight due to injury coincidentally just as their opponent starts talking about how they’re going to inflict damage upon going head-to-head. It’s then very suspicious when a fighter pulls out claiming a significant injury then mysteriously appearing on another fight card a month after their scheduled bout.

As you’re filling out your lineup and simultaneously replacing fighters who’ve fallen away, you’re also dealing with any number of issues from the commission, like incorrectly filled out medical forms and licenses, attracting and signing sponsors, booking and re-booking flights, setting up media interviews, and making sure you’ve got everything arranged with the arena.

Oh, yeah, and trying to sell tickets.

Coming Soon – The Build-up & Fight Night

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.