By MMA Mother Goose MFC Staff
Once upon a time, in a sport created long, long ago, there was a certain amount of honour and hope, perpetuated by the classic good versus evil stories of beating the odds and the dark forces hell bent on forcing our protagonist heroes off their righteous paths.
It was a time of great potential. Sponsorship dollars were at an all-time high and the sport of mixed martial arts was poised to defeat the evil queen of combat sports, boxing, and take its rightful throne as the ruler of the land of fighting.
Then the bandwagon on its way to the victory parade began to pick up a ragtag band of stragglers and opportunists who would cause great strife in the land and attempt to rewrite the fairytale ending we should have been passing on to our children, and their children after them.
Jack and the Beanstalk
For the past three or four years the kingdom of MMA has been under siege. Dark forces have been at work commandeering the hard earned money of the people and allocating a small percentage of it back to the knights of the Octagon who give their blood, sweat and tears to entertain the masses. Realizing that the formula was working to fill the coffers of the King with gold, conmen and petty thieves began promoting their own schemes.
One popular technique was to sell fighters a promise of great wealth and celebrity. We’ll call this the Jack and the Beanstalk effect. Fighters bought into this and began signing their lives away in exchange for a handful of beans. Sure, with a certain amount of hard labour and care and nurturing they could potentially grow the seeds of their careers into bigger and better opportunities, but they would be the ones doing all of the work, selling tickets and promoting their fights for little reward. The beans would often yield little more than hope and would often never sprout into anything at all.
The Promoter Who Cried Wolf
These same conmen who began sprouting up around the kingdom and then far away kingdoms began telling everyone who would listen – fighters, fans, managers, the media – that they were the next great ruler of the land and that when they became king they would share the riches they acquired with the people.
Time and time again the events never happened, the popular fighters never signed with them, and they never took over from the true Kings who were ruling the land. Eventually people stopped listening and the promoters fell victim to their own grandiose promises and started believing their own hype. The townspeople stopped listening and forgot about the attention-seeking boys who cried wolf, but the wolves will never forget and will eventually get them.
Little Red Riding Hood
Around the time the fraudsters got involved to make a quick buck, sponsors saw an opportunity to get something for next to nothing by befriending unsuspecting fighters and telling them they should share their picnic baskets with them, instead of their loved ones. Offers from these wolves became less and less attractive – often consisting of product or a nominal financial amount of money. Some saw through the scam and refused to allow it to cost them their dignity and took a stand against the wolves claiming to be friends.
Some companies with honourable intentions – both promotions and sponsors — saw that there was a problem and employed huntsmen to keep the wolves on the outskirts of town and ensure fighters could take care of their families without being taken advantage of, but unbeknownst to them, they had hired disguised wolves who were out for their own portion of the picnic basket. These well disguised predators would use their positions within the companies they worked for to get their hands in the pie and ensure their own were taken care of, all at the cost of fighters who they were supposed to be helping.
A Cinderella Ending
As with every good story there is a happy ending to this tale. For all of the dishonest and evil stepsisters in the sport who are more interested in lining their own pockets and taking credit for the success of their events at the expense of hardworking fighters, there are some whose primary goal is to give them a night at the ball where they can shine and take what is rightfully theirs. Although they are profitable and are often not given their due props, these honest companies don’t fool themselves into thinking they can take advantage of fighters and expect to survive more than a few years. Instead, they get their athletes to the ball and provide them with the glass slippers to potentially become royalty in this sport filled with jesters.
The pumpkin coach full of glass slippers rolls back into the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on January 17 at MFC 39. Make sure you don’t miss the ball.