The BLURRING of Lines...Promoter/Matchmaker/Manager:
Consumer Protection Advice for Fighters
Most states whose MMA events are regulated by a boxing or athletic commission require that everyone from the promoter down to the parking attendant pay for and obtain a license authorizing that person or organization to act in that specific capacity. Typically, each of the following persons must be licensed: Announcer, Booking Agent, Judge, Manager, Matchmaker, Participant, Promoter, Referee, Second/s, Timekeeper, Trainer, and Concessionaire. Depending on your specific state there may be more or less licenses required for your run-of-the-mill MMA event. This article will focus on the duties and relationship between four specific persons and licenses:
a. Promoter: The person or company who runs the event.
b. Matchmaker: The person who finds the fighters and certifies to the state that the fight will be competitive; usually hired by the Promoter.
c. Fighter: The person who is fighting...duh!!!
d. Manager: The person who negotiates the fighterís contracts (purses and sponsorships), makes travel arrangements, and sometimes schedules the medicals for the fighter.
The relationship between these parties, on paper at least, appears black and white. The Matchmaker is hired by the Promoter to put together the fight card. The Manager is hired by the Fighter to negotiate with the Matchmaker/Promoter and get the fighter the most money for the fight. In effect, the Matchmaker is an agent of the Promoter (and is often given a purse budget to negotiate from) and the Manager is an agent for the Fighter.
Simple, article over, right?...wrong.
What happens when the Matchmaker is also the Manager? Some states with MMA regulations prohibit a Promoter from being a Matchmaker but do not prohibit a Matchmaker from being a Manager. At a smaller promotion, a Promoter will often hire a company (Matchmaker) who will then populate the card with fighters being managed by a different company (Manager). However, the president of both companies is the Matchmaker. How does one negotiate against himself to obtain the best purse payout for the Fighter. Easy, the Fighter takes the short end of the stick because they are usually the less business savvy of the Matchmaker/Managerís clients, i.e., Promoter v. Fighter.
So, the Matchmaker/Manager collects his fee from the Promoter and makes the Promoter happy by coming in right around budget and filling the card with relative ease. He also collects his fee from his fighters depending on how each does on fight night. You find similar gray area practices when occasionally the fighter will encounter a Promoter/Manager. Essentially the conflict of interest that is plain as day with the Matchmaker/Manager is the same conflict that is present with the Promoter/Manager. A Fighterís best interest CAN NOT be effectively defended and pursued where the Manager is also the Matchmaker or the Promoter.
It is possible, both legally and ethically, to be both a Matchmaker or Promoter and a Manager. Both roles must be mutually exclusive of each other. The Matchmaker/Manager has two completely separate hats that CAN NOT be worn at the same time, meaning he cannot have one of his fighters appear on a fight card that he is organizing. Similarly, a Promoter/Manager CAN NOT sign one of his fighters into his promotion.
The MMA Regulations in most states are fairly new. We can only hope that legislatures and athletic commission start to recognize the obvious conflict posed by the dual licensing of a person or entity as Matchmaker or Promoter and a Manager. While there are honest and ethical people in the MMA industry who recognize the conflict in these dueling roles, and who attempt to keep them separate, those people are few and far between.
In the mean time, the Fighter, like any other consumer, should arm himself/herself with knowledge, ask the right questions, and fully understand who is sitting at the table and whose interests are being represented, before signing anything.
Elite Athlete Management, Inc.