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What Happened to the Iconic MMA Brand?


10 Myths of Youth Marketing < Talking Biz with Overeem < Social Coupons: < Effective or Waste?




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Daily Deals promotions through services like Groupon and Living Social are hot for consumers. But are they a smart marketing option for MMA Businesses?

The road to relevance in youth culture is cluttered with misguided advice. Our experts set it straight, debunking the leading myths about marketing to teens and young adults.



Authentic Brands Group acquired Tapout 18 months ago. What have the new owners been up to? And what’s in the near future for the brand that once dominated MMA imagery?



6 I BUSINESS PLAN Entrepreneur 101

8 I ON THE MAT Flexibility Training




The New HDNet, Xyience Increases Distribution, Member Solutions Bootcamp, MMA Business online connections


New York’s MMA World Expo


Exclusive Interview with Alistair Overeem, Eastern Region Promotions


Title Boxing & MMA


Introducing our New Advisory Board

40 I BUSINESS BY THE NUMBERS Your Retirement Plan


MMA in China, New Promotion in India


Tapout R&D Training Center, Las Vegas


New Products and Services for your Gym




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MIXED THOUGHTS from the Editor Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2012


Grow or Die New Hampshire owns “Live Free or Die.” There is a humorous website called And so many marketers espouse the “Grow Or Die” mantra. Of the three, we’re going with that last one – with a big bet on the “Grow.” Welcome to the third year of MMA Business magazine. Two years ago, we created MMA Business to be a unique and useful information source for MMA gym owners and professional trainers. We started with our knowledge of business-to-business journalism and publishing, and mixed that with a diverse network of martial arts industry experts – a combination of “what you know” and “who you know.” We got to know a great deal of business owners and leaders along the way, and this ever-expanding network proved very valuable. With their help, MMA Business distributed dozens of business-boosting articles in the last two years. So, let’s make it better. We’ve decided to expand our reach and our content mix to better serve all MMA industry professionals. Now, we not only reach gym owners and trainers, but also agents, promoters, distributors and manufacturers all doing business in the MMA industry. In this issue, you will notice a couple new departments: “The Fight Business” and “Wide World of MMA.” We want to grow the influence of this magazine, make it a more complete voice for the entire Mixed Martial Arts industry. Why? Building a bigger network is the best way to grow a business. So as we connect and learn from more people, we’ll pass that knowledge around. We want to expand our network and yours through information sharing. Here’s how we’ll do that. First, we have a new Advisory Board for 2012. You can meet them all starting on page 24. It’s great group of industry professionals. Some of them we met recently; others have been helping us for many months. Most importantly, they bring a broad mix of industry experience to our growth plan. Second,  MMA Business is more than just a print magazine. We’re proud to be a print magazine, of course, because we believe print can remain an important platform. But we’re not dinosaurs. We use a variety of media to communicate and connect. The MMA Business group on has more than 1,000 members, and the site is filled with discussions that create possibilities for impactful connections. We use our Facebook page to stay connected with a small but dedicated group. And we have an important and evolving relationship with our web partners at Finally, we plan to grow other relationships, too, and create new ways to celebrate and promote bright people, creative companies and bold ideas in Mixed Martial Arts. Plans are underway for launching a true “business-oriented” Awards Program, honoring the best people, products and companies in Mixed Martial Arts . This is going to be a great year. We plan to grow. Are you with us?





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Publisher Richard Hendricks 612-306-1707 Editor Glenn Hansen Editorial Contributors Ted Czech, Dale Shirley (Photographer) Art Director Brett Link, BlinkVisuals 612-741-3048 Advertising Sales Representative White Chocolate Management Advertising Sales Representative Heidi Collins 651-353-1981 MMA ADVISORY BOARD John Bostick, Amber Galvanosi, Jamie Gudell, Jeff and Barry Meyer, Hans Molenkamp, Greg Nelson, Pascal Pakter, Erik Paulson, Steve Pinado, Kekoa Quipotla CIRCULATION FULFILLMENT Knowledge Marketing Publishing Services

MMA Business is published 6 times annually by MMA Business LLC, 9444 Deerwood Lane North, Maple Grove, MN 55369. Postmaster: send address changes to MMA Business, 9444 Deerwood Lane N., Maple Grove, MN 55369.

MMA BUSINESS LLC 800-989-8085 President Chuck Blanski Vice President/Sales & Marketing Jimmy Pedro Subscription Information: Free to qualified members of the mixed martial arts industry. To subscribe or renew your free subscription, go to:, Customer Service: contact MMA Business, 9444 Deerwood Lane North, Maple Grove, MN 55369. Call 800-8696882, Fax 866-658-6156, or e-mail MMA@ Editorial Submissions: return postage must accompany all manuscripts and photographs submitted to MMA Business if they are to be returned. MMA Business is not responsible for unsolicited materials. MMA Business makes no endorsements, representations, guarantees or warranties regarding products and services presented or advertised within the publication. © 2012 by MMA Business LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Printed in U.S.A.


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BUSINESS PLAN Entrepreneur 101 Recently, I was in New Jersey at the KRU Martial Arts Expo standing in front of a room full of martial arts professionals – school and gym owners from across the United States who had gathered to learn new skills, both on the mat and for their business. My planned 60-minute talk on entrepreneurship extended to a nearly three-hour group discussion; I and these martial arts business owners came away with a much more robust understanding of how to operate and grow a martial arts business. As an entrepreneur and consultant to the combat sports industry, I work with a variety of startups and growth-stage companies. Whether in apparel, athlete management, event promotion or MMA training, these diverse businesses share one common element that helps them succeed. They grow from a solid a business plan. Do You Truly Need a Business Plan? First, ask yourself if you’re running a “hobby business” or an “entrepreneurial endeavor.” Somebody looking to create a job doing what they love typically starts a hobby business – a rather informal, and loosely operated small business. Hobbyists don’t approach their company like a serious business, and that’s why many struggle to make it work. When you define your business as an “entrepreneurial endeavor,” you take the first step toward building a successful business. And right after that, you develop a business plan – for the following reasons: 1) Accountability; 2) Vetting; 3) Save time and money; and 4) To communicate your business model.

1. Accountability – Most people are so afraid to be wrong about their big idea that they won’t actually put it down on paper. Only when you record your thoughts and ideas in a written plan do you truly become accountable for them. By writing a business plan, you become accountable to yourself and to those with whom you share your ideas. Like an entrepreneur, it helps if you’re an optimist. An optimist will have no problem – and little or no fear




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– in becoming accountable for a good business plan.

2. Vetting – This is just a fancy business word for “working the wrinkles out of your concept.” As you become accountable for your thoughts by putting them on paper, you’ll realize you don’t want to be wrong, so you learn to back up every claim you make in your business plan. In the process of vetting your ideas, you may find the business can’t work. And it’s best to realize this now, not after you’ve invested (wasted?) time and money on bad business ideas. 3. Save Time and Money – Writing a business plan will save you the time and money you would have lost trying to save a failing business launched without proper planning. A venture capitalist once told me: “If you don’t have capital you don’t have a company.” In other words, when you run out of money you go out of business.

4. Tangible Means of Communicating Your Model – Your completed business plan will be a strong document that can easily be shared with anybody who needs to become familiar with your business. They could be a new employee, a partner, an investor, or a consultant. Without that document, you may spend hours trying to explain every aspect of your business to somebody, and you will struggle to do it consistently and professionally. A business plan is a “living document.” That means it’s never finished – don’t name your business plan document “Final.” It’s not. Your business plan should be in a constant state of revision. I have one that’s going on its 30th revision. That’s extreme, but it illustrates an important point: A true entrepreneur works on their business. A hobbyist works in their business. And entrepreneurs always seek the help of talented experts; don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Dan Greene is a lifelong martial artist, instructor, and a combat sports industry business expert. He’s the Cofounder and CEO of Combat Sports Consulting, LLC, and works with martial arts business owners across the globe. He can be reached at

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ON THE MAT Flexibility Training for Combat Athletes Everyday I see someone follow up their strength training workout, cardio session, or Muay Thai class with a couple shoulder rolls and maybe two or three toe touches before running out the door. Aside from a brief feeling of satisfaction that you “stretched out,” what benefit did that minimal effort provide? Did you lengthen worked muscle tissue to aid in recovery? Did you reduce muscle soreness with your half-hearted 30-second routine? I’m afraid not. Look, if you want to achieve optimal results, you must integrate flexibility training into your program. An overlooked element of fitness, flexibility plays an essential part of a complete training system. Flexibility is a joint’s ability to move through a full range of motion. This is important for all activities, from grocery shopping, to golfing, to Mixed Martial Arts. Flexibility training also aids in injury prevention and allows for proper movement execution, both of which are significant characteristics when it comes to training MMA athletes. Try to throw a head kick with tight hips – you simply can’t fully extend and generate full power. Customized Training Like other aspects of fitness, flexibility training should be customized to the member, client or fighter. We are all unique, and our bodies have different imbalances (some more than others). A proper assessment is valuable here to help pinpoint any “problem” areas someone may have. From this information, we can then determine the best stretches and movements to get positive results. Many of my clients share the same flexibility issues, albeit for different reasons. My busy executive who sits at a desk and flies every other week has tight calves, hip flexors, chest, and shoulders. Sitting frequently and for long periods contributes to these issues. With an MMA athlete, he’s constantly on the balls of his feet with his hands up and chin down during his stand up training. For his ground work, he’s in forward flexion for much of the practice. Even frequent repeats of these


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A training sessions can cause flexibility imbalances if you’re not coaching for flexibility, too. Here are several flexibility training methods to help both the busy executive and your MMA fighters.

(A) Chest and shoulders Standing in a standard doorway, bring one arm up with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Place your forearm against the frame, and step one leg through the doorway. Lean forward slightly and turn your torso away from the frame to increase the stretch along your chest and front-side shoulder. Hold this for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

(B) Hips and hip flexors Facing away from a wall, get on your knees and have your toes touch the wall. Bring one foot up the wall and get your knee as close to the wall as you can. Now bring the other foot up so you are on one knee and one foot. Keep a tall spine and

toward the ground to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.

B press your hips forward slightly to increase the stretch. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

(C) Calves and hamstrings Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Next, begin to straighten your legs and arms, and push your hips up and back. You should look like and upside down ‘V’. Relax your head between your arms, and gently press your heels

Solutions For You and Your Students If you are a gym owner or manager looking to add new programming, consider a “flexibility class” or yoga class. I’m aware of a number of MMA/fitness facilities that have had great success with the addition of yoga-type classes for all levels of “fighters.” If you’re not ready to offer a complete flexibility class, include 10 minutes of stretching and flexibility work in at the end of every class you offer: Muay Thai, boxing, No Gi Grappling, etc. Offer a 15-minute “healthy break” flexibility class that gives members a “taste” and allows them to hear about and feel the benefits of stretching and mobility movements. Reach out to a yoga studio in your area to crosspromote and offer discounted rates to any of their members who join your facility. They will likely do the same for your members. Or find a qualified yoga instructor in your area to lead classes at your facility a couple times per week. One issue with flexibility training is there are many methods to choose from. There is static stretching, dynamic stretching, isometric stretching, ballistic stretching, PNF stretching, AIS stretching, even the aforementioned yoga. Try a few options to see which method works best for you. You need balance in your exercise routine. You can’t spar, wrestle, kick-box, etc. every single day and expect your body to withstand all that abuse. Incorporate flexibility training into the weekly routine to achieve optimal strength gains, prevent injuries, and give yourself the best chance of reaching your true potential.


Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is a personal trainer and the strength and conditioning coach for Alliance MMA where he works with UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Alexander Gustafsson, and more. Visit for more information.



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Member Solutions

Keep the Cash Flow Flowing No matter how impressive your business plan or income statement may appear, you will be out of business rather quickly if you don’t have the cash to pay your landlord for next month’s rent. Every business has peaks and valleys in their business cycles – particularly membership-based businesses like MMA gyms and martial arts studios. These peaks and valleys could be a matter of days, weeks, months or even longer. Whatever the case, smart business owners have a plan for what to do with cash surpluses during the peaks, and what to borrow during the valleys, in order to stay strong and in business. As a first step, take a look at how your business is trending. Gather your cash flow statements from the last 12 months, then create a six-month cash flow forecast. It’s important to update your forecast each month with actual cash inflows and outflows, along with the net increase and decrease. Remember, cash flow problems don’t appear out of thin air. Keep your eyes on the ball! In a Cash Flow Statement, you would list the beginning and ending balance for cash during a reported time frame. The difference between the beginning and ending balance is your net increase (or decrease) in cash. Then you provide details that explain the net change. Analyzing your cash flow trends and establishing cash flow projections is extremely important, and all business owners should maintain this practice. Also critical are the steps owners and staff can take to encourage prompt, predictable member payment behaviors. In the June 2011 MMA Business issue, my colleague and Member Solutions Chief Operating Officer, Dina Engel, provided eight tips to help your cash flow and improve your bottom line. Here I’ve listed nine more tips to positively impact cash flow: 1. Many vendor and suppliers offer extended payment plans. Take advantage of these finance options. A word of caution though: be careful not to pay excessive fees or interest.




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2. Collect pre-payments or down-payments from customers, but beware not to harm the future by discounting too heavily. Don’t spend too much of tomorrow’s cash today – it will eventually come back and bite you. 3. Consolidate outstanding loans into a lower interest account. Lower interest rates will allow you to pay off the principal faster and eliminate debt. 4. Reduce your inventory. Get as close as you can to a “just-in-time” inventory system. 5. Don’t be afraid to raise prices. You are a master in your respective business and should be adequately compensated for your services. 6. Develop good relations with your local bankers and vendors. A good-faith relationship will go a long way when you are in a cash-crunch situation. 7. Accept credit cards from your members. Numerous studies show businesses that accept credit cards see huge increases in volume. Your members will buy more merchandise from your pro shop, plus you’ll get your cash faster without waiting for checks to clear or having to send out invoices. 8. Realize time is money. You don’t have the time to run everything. Taking on every function will only get in the way of your business growth and progress. Take a look at your business strengths, weaknesses and core competencies, then look to outsource your weaknesses and non-core functions so you can focus solely on your competencies. 9. The final and most important tip in improving your cash flow: focus your time and energy on members. Your future cash is currently in the hands of your customers and member retention is a critical success driver for your membership-based business. Serve your members well and you will be rewarded. Michael Connor is the Director of Finance for Member Solutions, a leading provider of billing, servicing and business support for membership-based businesses.




HDNet Becomes


Mark Cuban’s HDNet cable network will change its name to AXS (pronounced “access”) TV in a new venture with Ryan Seacrest Media, sports and entertainment giant AEG, and Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency. Set to debut this summer, AXS TV will deliver programming opportunities for the wide variety of events, personalities and products served by its new owner partners. That will likely include live concerts and music festivals, red carpet premieres, award shows, pop culture events, and – hopefully for MMA fans – more of the fights and MMA coverage HDNet televised. The new network will reportedly reach more than 35 million homes across North America. In a press release, the company + Ryan Seacrest aimed to assure MMA fans that, while “programming will likely evolve over time … HDNet’s signature programming including HDNet Fights, Inside MMA, award-winning Dan Rather Reports, Sunday concert series, and select non-scripted series will continue on AXS TV.”

Xyience Into 1,550 GNC Stores Signing a deal with GNC stores, Xyience will increase its retail presence in the United States. Up to 1,550 GNC stores around the U.S. will carry 16-ounce cans of Xenergy. Another 300 GNC franchise stores also have the opportunity to carry sugar-free Xenergy, which is the official energy drink of the UFC. “We’ve had a very successful relationship with GNC in Canada, and we’re confi12

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dent that our partnership in the United States will also be a winner,” says John Lennon, Xyience president. Xyience announced another new distribution deal that will put its energy drinks in BJ’s Warehouse stores, which includes nearly 200 outlets in 15 states along the east coast. The company also recently announced the renewal of its relationship with 4,200 Circle K retailers in the U.S.

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Member Solutions

Announces Third Annual Martial Arts Business


The third annual Member Solutions Bootcamp gives martial arts professionals an opportunity to learn best practices for marketing, selling, enrolling and retaining members from several industry leaders. Set for March 31 and April 1 in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, this bootcamp is open to all martial arts and MMA school owners and their staff.

“We’re thrilled to provide this great learning and networking experience to the Martial Arts community each year. Bootcamp 2012 will be especially exciting,” says Joe Galea, President of Member Solutions. “We’re including new handson workshops where attendees will receive guided tutorials and inperson business training to reinforce learning and provide tangible results on the spot.” The weekend includes business seminars, interactive workshops, training sessions, and time for networking. Presenters include Kyoshi Allie Alberigo, Founder of and Owner of Long Island Ninjutsu Centers; Master Tommy Lee, Founder of Stepby-Step Success (SBSS) and Owner of East Coast Martial Arts; Mike Metzger, MAIA Elite Consultant and Managing Member of Championship Martial Arts; Michael Parrella, Founder of and CEO of Full Contact Online Marketing; and others. Visit the conference website, or call 888-277-4409 to register.


MMA Business


If you’re reading this, you value – like us – the print-magazine experience. Similarly, many MMA professionals use print advertising, printed flyers and physical catalogs to distribute information on products and services. Print works, but we’re active digitally, as well, and you should join us. The MMA Business LinkedIn group has more than 1,000 members currently, and this community is increasingly active with discussions of business best practices as well as networking opportunities. The group includes a variety of professionals in MMA, martial arts, sports, and health and fitness businesses. A full 40 percent of these individuals are business owners. And they come from all over the world. If you’re not yet active in this LinkedIn Group, it’s not too late to join and benefit from the connections you make here. The website – through a partnership we formed with Gabe Wahhab and his growing team of reporters – shares unique content as well as stories written originally for MMA Business magazine. Look here to find a wide variety of articles and news to help keep you in-the-know. As social networking opportunities evolve, MMA Business will continue to participate in the digital discussions, whether on Facebook (, or Google+, Twitter and other sites.

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+ With the new STS Challenge cage holding center stage, the MMA World Expo in New York held its third annual successful showcase of MMA activity.


NEW YORK The third annual MMA World Expo took place at New York City’s Javits Center in December 2011. With training seminars, fight tournaments, exhibitors and autograph signings, the Expo is becoming an important event for MMA enthusiasts and professionals on the East Coast. A highlight of the 2011 MMA World Expo was Randy Couture’s official U.S. book launch for his new “The Last Round.” Couture’s appearance included a launch party, a press conference and autograph signings. “It took a lot of networking to get Randy Couture to the MMA World Expo,” said Paul Paone, event director. It wasn’t all about Couture; event attendees got to meet several fighters, including Matt Serra, and others. Each of the three Expo events has included training seminars managed by top-level trainers including Jimmy Pedro, Marcelo Garcia, Phil Nurse and others. In these personal sessions, attendees get to train on the mat with these experts. The Expo’s tournaments and fights were perhaps the biggest draw at the 2011 show. 14

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“Saturday was wall-to-wall with people,” said Paone. The Renzo Gracie BJJ Open tournament drew large numbers of participants and fans. And the new STS Challenge event Paone created is growing into a new multi-event structure.” Fights in The City That Never Fights Despite New York’s restrictive MMA climate – politicians have shot down the sport several times in recent years – Paone launched a new fighting event. “I thought, ‘What could we do to be permissible under the current laws?’” Paone said. He did some research, and found three main stipulations: The event would have to be amateur-only; winners could not be offered any big prizes; and different martial arts disciplines could not be mixed within a round. The STS Challenge was born. This competition, first held in December at Paone’s MMA World Expo in New York City, featured all the main elements of MMA – striking, takedowns and submissions – each with

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its own round, inside a cage. None of those disciplines normally take place inside a cage, Paone said. “The cage, not only does it look cool, but what we found at the show is that each discipline had a twist to it, because you had to factor the cage in,” he said. Ten fighters competed in the first STS Challenge; more initially signed on, but several dropped out pre-fight – a common occurrence in amateur ranks. The first stand-alone STS Challenge fight is scheduled for April 13, 2012 in Manhattan. “This event will include 12 fights at different classes up to Heavyweight,” said Paone. The 2012 schedule includes a total of eight events this year, including fights in New York, Connecticut, Florida and Pennsylvania, plus the end-of-the-year final at the MMA World Expo in New York City. “I want to continue the grass-roots feel of the events,” Paone said. “We’ll continue throughout the year with various tournaments and they’ll culminate at the end of the year at the Expo, scheduled for Dec. 1 and 2 at the Javits Center.”

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Do It For Love in Pennsylvania PA CageFight, one of Pennsylvania’s longest-running and most successful promotions, decided to change up its business plan for 2012. After tallying the receipts from its yearend Black Friday event in 2011 – typically its biggest event of the year – promoters Jonathan Kernis and Chris Coyne found they had only made about $4,000. For that event – CageFight 9 – they had drawn more than 2,000 fans at a Scranton, Pa., arena, had five pro fights on the card and an expensive state-of-the-art light and sound system. Kernis and Coyne decided that for this year, they would drop down to smaller venues and pack them with between 700 and 800 fans, having less pro fights and eschewing the dazzling lights and sound.

For Kernis, the change is a reaction to the current climate in the MMA industry. “There are a tremendous amount of UFC fans in the country; there aren’t a lot of MMA fans,” he said. “We’re going to do six (events) a year; five ballrooms and one big one. But the big one, you can’t make money on.” Kernis said “to do a good-size show, you’re talking $50,000, (but) the market just isn’t there. The smaller venues are much cheaper. The cost of the venue is much different and you don’t need to put on as many pro fights. … If you’re doing any more than three or four pro fights, it’s a recipe for disaster.” Beyond that, the market in Pennsylvania is saturated with a lot of “one-and-done” promoters. “That’s not what it takes to keep true fans – those who are not fighters’ family and friends,” he said. “You have to do your best to give fans a quality experience … I want good-quality, competitive fights,” Kernis said. So what’s Kernis’ edge? First of all, he trains – he’s a purple belt in BJJ – and he knows all of the fighters, trainers and gym owners in his area. Second, CageFight isn’t Kernis’ sole source of income. In fact, it’s the project that occupies the largest part of his time, but pays out the least. He also deals in real estate and vehicle auctions, while Coyne owns three supplement stores in the area, and a bar. “The moral of the story in this business is that it has to be done out of love first, because there’s just not money to be made,” Kernis said.

Is It Working in West Virginia? In an act that appeared to be legislative sabotage, West Virginia lawmakers did the people’s will and legalized MMA in the state in 2010. Holding on to their own disdain and ignorance of the sport, however, legislators attached financially prohibitive requirements to make it nearly impossible to stage an event in the state. For example, they stipulated that an MMA event would have to be held in an arena that had the capacity of at least 5,000, and in West Virginia, they knew that would be a stretch. Enter Butch Hiles, who already had a long and admittedly frustrating history with the state. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Hiles opened an academy in 1998, only to have lawmakers outlaw MMA about three years later. In 2006, they decided to make BJJ illegal too. “Had to go to court over that,” Hiles said, and he succeeded in getting the law repealed.


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All along, Hiles has been on the front lines of the effort to re-legalize MMA, educating as many lawmakers as he can get to listen. But it was a little company called the UFC – actually its parent company, Zuffa – that pushed the legalization through, he said. “Zuffa got involved last year,” Hiles said. “They took it over the top; they hired a great lobbyist. Without Zuffa, it would’ve never happened.” But Hiles’ work wasn’t done – he kept pushing, getting the state to lower the venue capacity requirements from 5,000 to 2,500. He then joined forces with longtime east coast MMA promoter Lionell Royer to promote the state’s first MMA event, West Virginia Professional MMA – The Beginning, held Jan. 7 at the Williamson Field House in Williamson, W.Va. Even with the lowered venue capacity, Hiles estimates attendance was at about 4,500. “Before 6, there was a line a mile down the road,” he said. “Which was a good problem to have. There was definitely a need for MMA here and that proved it.” Hiles said he and Royer are planning a second event, possibly in April, at another venue in the state. In the meantime, more work needs to be done, he said. The state also requires that, for an amateur fighter to turn pro, he or she must have 10 bouts and a winning record. Hiles wants the athletic



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commission to consider pro fighters on a case-by-case basis, not a hard-and-fast rule. Hiles speculates the show he and Royer put on turned a profit, although he wasn’t sure exactly how much. Paying 20 pro fighters was not cheap, although many of them took serious pay cuts to get on the card, “to help out as friends to me and to be a part of history,” he said. He’s also looking forward to the day the UFC holds an event in the state, and hoping that he can get one or two West Virginia fighters who have dominated local shows on the card.



We talk “Fight Business” with Alistair Overeem We caught up to budding UFC heavyweight star Alistair Overeem in Miami recently, shortly after his convincing victory over Brock Lesnar. MMA Business: Alistair, for a fighter like you right now, how much focus is on the “business” of fighting? Compared to just fight training? Alistair Overeem: At this point of your career, everything is different, so you need a different approach. Your name is becoming more of a brand and a business so you have to treat it like that. Although I still think that you always have to keep priority to the main objective and that is training and preparing for your upcoming fight. I want to win the UFC belt so I would rather spend no time on business and focus myself on just fighting. Luckily I have people surrounding me and helping me on the business side, but you always have to make sure you know what’s going on in case you will need to make time for it. When I fought like six times a year it was more difficult to plan, but now I will fight two or three times a year. After each fight, I have some time to look into marketing opportunities, non-fight events and possible partnerships. It’s something each fighter has to decide. Some fighters only train, and they do everything their managers ask without questions. Other fighters manage themselves completely. My approach is somewhere in the middle, but I have to say I kind of like it to see what’s happening and discuss with the team, so I try to be involved as much as I can. MMA: Do you have a role model in this regard? Is there a fight-


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er or other athlete who came before you and serves as a guide for developing a long-lasting and diverse professional career? Overeem: No not really, but I like to see fighters doing more appearances outside fighting. You have to understand, the career of an athlete is not long lasting, and you can be sidelined by an injury. So I like to see fighters like Randy Couture doing movies and having his own gym, or Chuck Liddell starring in TV shows. MMA: You have fought all over the world, and in a variety of promotions, including both Strikeforce and UFC, and as an MMA fighter, kickboxer, submission grappler. Do you plan on continuing this variety, or would you like to settle into one promotion and one competitive style? Overeem: I’m now a UFC fighter. That means I will only fight in the UFC, and only in MMA. This is my home now and my goal is to win that title. MMA: You own a gym in the Netherlands. When did you open that, and why? Was it designed more to be a good business opportunity for a fighter? Or is the training and fitness business something you’ve always wanted to do? Overeem: I don’t own the gym. Two close friends of mine own it. But I have made a sort of partnership where I endorse my name to it and in exchange I can use the facility for my training camp and have some extra benefits with it.



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PROFILE: Title Boxing-Title MMA Tony Carbajo and David Hanson started Title Boxing in 1998. From 1999 to 2000, the company reported a 99 percent increase in revenue. With experience inside the ring and in the equipment business, the two have continued to build Title Boxing into one of the largest equipment distributors in combat sports. The brand added the Title MMA product catalog to the mix in 2007. This privately held company recently expanded into fitness club franchises, and they built it all on the foundation of “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” MMA Business recently spoke with Title Boxing’s David Hanson. MMA Business: You grew the company rapidly in the first few years. Now more than 10 years later, has that growth continued? And did the economic downturn have a big impact on your business? David Hanson: We’ve grown every single year since the beginning. Sure, the weak economy slowed our business a bit. But we have still seen an increase in revenue and profits every year. And I consider MMA to have helped that. We really didn’t go after MMA until the 2007 catalog. It’s not the biggest part of our business, but it’s an important part of our business. MMA: Is Title a manufacturer first or a product distributor first? Hanson: I would have to say “distributor,” because we distribute everything. However, 75 percent of what we sell we manufacture. So it’s difficult to answer exactly, but if I had to answer, I’d say we are a distributor first. We do license some products. And we make equipment for a number 20

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+ The Title Boxing Club franchises are expanding rapidly throughout the country’s mid-section.

of other brands. Most of our products are manufactured in Asia, including Thailand. That’s one of the first places Tony (Carbajo, co-founder) and I visited. We got to see some live kickboxing in a true Bangkok stadium. That was amazing. MMA: Title has been in the boxing business much longer than the MMA business. How much of Title’s business now comes from “MMA?” Or can you even separate and quantify the two? Hanson: We can look at it as business that comes from one website (Title-

W W W. M M A B U S I N E S S . C O M or the other (TitleMMA. com), but some of the products cross over. Then you have our regular MMA gym customers, but if they buy boxing gloves, is that a boxing sale or an MMA sale judging by the end user? It’s a pretty difficult question to answer, but I would say 28 or 29 percent is MMA. MMA: How much of your revenue is Business-to-Business (B2B) and how much is Business-to-Consumer (B2C)? Hanson: It’s somewhere between 10 and 12 percent is B2B. We are more

+(TOP) Title’s founders believe “If we don’t have

it, you don’t need it.” And these Call Center employees are the ones who will find it and get it to you. (LEFT) The company’s Fight Store is located at Title’s Kansas City headquarters, and includes 4,000 square feet of space to showcase equipment, apparel and accessories.

shirts for $20 and selling them for $40. But that’s not the case anymore. MMA: The site has a blog, and it states: “Just having the right gear doesn’t make someone a boxer. Just like any sport, the vast majority of being a successful boxer starts from the neck up … Title aims to provide you with not only the gear you need, but also the advice you’ll need to achieve your goals … Hit it hard!” Is this blog working, are you tracking what it might do for you? And why is there no MMA blog?

direct. I consider most sales to gyms as B2C because those sales are often requested directly by a consumer. MMA: I’m curious about how people’s shopping habits may have changed over the last year or two. On the Boxing side or the MMA side, are customers buying more gear for training, or are they buying more lifestyle and fan-type items? It appears both websites carry a higher percentage of gear than lifestyle goods, but curious about the trends because I see so much more combat sports apparel being worn in public.

Hanson: In our particular niche of the business, we’re noticing that the UFC lifestyle t-shirt look is definitely on a decline. We’re really focusing on equipment for both boxing and MMA, and we’ve always focused on equipment. We got into the MMA world when the Tapout and Affliction thing was going crazy. You could do well buying

Hanson: It’s hard to measure the ROI (Return On Investment) on it. I get tired of absolute commercial sales all the time. I think you need to bring more to the table than that. It really started when we posted a few similar things on our Facebook, and we would get great comments. So we built it from there. It’s been going great. And

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PROFILE: Title Boxing-Title MMA

+ Title built its name in boxing, but the company is now an MMA force in both product manufacturing and distribution.

I think we owe it back to the Boxing community, besides just offering gloves for $49.99. On the Title MMA website, we did a partnership with MMA Junkie, and we share the news they generate. It’s not the same as the Title Boxing blog, but it’s something. MMA: It’s interesting to me that Title and Century Martial Arts sell each other’s products. Aren’t you competitors? Hanson: We made it a point to be friendly with almost every competitor out there. I remember as a kid going to trade shows with my dad, and he was friendly with every competitor. That’s my philosophy. There are certain companies where it just doesn’t work out. But for most, it’s a good thing for us. MMA: The Title Black product line was new in late 2011. How is this premium product selling? And is “premium” a trend we’ll see more of from Title? Hanson: Just like everything in the world, technology helps drive improvements, and that’s true in boxing as well. Just look at boxing gloves; they 22

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are different today than even 10 years ago. Every company is working to make things better, and not just on the top pricepoint products. We’re working to make customers happy with every price point. You certainly see that in Nike shoes; you can find inexpensive Nike shoes at department stores, and you can buy $200 Air Jordans. We have our price points, too. Title Platinum is a higher grade of leather and foam. And for the Title Black brand, we took a hybrid of everything we’ve done that’s been great, and put it into one line. We’ve spent some money, and we pay a lot for this product development and manufacturing. It’s selling faster than we thought. MMA: Tell us about the Title Fight Store. Is it a model or pilot project for expansion into other retail opportunities? Hanson: It’s really more of a showroom. We do some retail business out of this store, located at our headquarters outside of Kansas City. This is not necessarily a hot bed of Boxing or MMA. Yes, we have some great fighters from here, but it’s not like we’re in Southern California. We do a little bit of business out of it. And if we get a sample of a product, we can try it in the store. We have bag racks and bags, plus an Octagon cage in this 4,000-square-foot space. This is not a pilot for other retail spaces. Each Title Boxing Club has a pro shop for retail. MMA: Do you encourage MMA gym owners to have a Pro Shop? Hanson: It can be a difficult side of the business. There are inventory-carrying costs, securing the equipment from

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theft, plus staffing and being open at the right hours for retail sales, and more. If a business owner could staff this all the time and be open longer hours, a Pro Shop could be lucrative. But it can be difficult for some business owners. MMA: The Title Boxing Clubs franchises seem to be growing quickly. How did that idea start? Hanson: We have friends from the boxing industry who wanted to open boxing gyms with more of a fitness feel, and they came to us with this idea in November of 2007. It sounded like a great idea from the start, and there was no way we could lose with this. The first Title Boxing Club opened in Overland Park, Kansas, in 2008, just weeks after our first discussions about it. We had 200 members pretty quickly. We opened another six months later, and another six months after that. And now we’ve sold more than 100 franchises, in a pretty short amount of time. We just finished one in North Dallas, Texas, that will open soon. It’s not MMA and it’s not real boxing, either. We don’t allow sparring or boxing. There is a boxing ring, and you can do training with mitts. There are bags, and it’s an intense cardio workout. It’s just a way for fitnessoriented people to work out in a new way. And people get addicted to it. It’s fun, and it’s not like getting on a treadmill or a stationary bike. It’s interactive. The whole thing is focused on doing the boxing class, and members can do as many as they want. We’re not cannibalizing our current business relationships with boxing or MMA gyms. If we put a Title Boxing Club in the same neighborhood where there is a boxing gym, both would do well. The guy who runs our Title Store – LC Davis – is an MMA fighter, and he opened an MMA gym two doors down from one of our Title Boxing Club; no competing interests at all.

2012 Advisory Board Introduction S t o r y

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At home, I’m a Do-It-Yourselfer – to a fault. At MMA Business magazine, that just can’t work. We knew from the start that this magazine would be as good as the company it keeps. In that way, we are really good – and we’re getting better. For 2012, MMA Business has a new Advisory Board, and the experts that serve on this board – the company we keep – will help us make this a better communication tool for your business and ours. Our original Advisory Board included the top names in MMA training, coaching and gym ownership. This group helped us make connections and it kept us informed of the most important things happening for

MMA school owners. We thank them all for being available and accessible to our calls, texts, and emails. Our new board will continue to serve as an outstanding networking tool, but to an even broader network. As I said in my column this issue, MMA Business has bigger plans to be an even better magazine for the entire MMA industry. And with new connections we’ll attain that goal more effectively and efficiently. Much of the work this group and I do will happen between us, of course. But we will give them a voice independently and as a group through these pages. We’re proud to introduce to you’re the 2012 MMA Business Advisory Board.

John Bostick,

top level fighters (including Young himself), it has a leading training staff, and it serves a growing community of enthusiastic amateurs devoted to MMA training at a variety of levels. The business also promotes its

own fight events in house; the Proving Ground fights are a popular entertainment option, a growing revenue source, and an opportunity for regional fighters to grow a career.

Amber Galvanosi,

her husband Rodrigo Galvanosi) in our first year, suggesting we write a “Your Gym” story about the business. Since then, we’ve built a mutually beneficial relationship based on our needs to improve business opportunities

for both of us, and the industry as a whole. That’s how Galvanosi thinks all the time, and it’s why Fearless Fighting is a powerful success.

Jamie Gudell,

opers to martial arts schools and MMA gym owners. He gets to experience the focus on traditional martial arts as well as the mix of modern MMA. With Century for five years, Gudell was formerly division manager

for the Martial Arts Industry Association, where he worked in the business development side of the industry.

Fight Academy; John Bostick and business partner Savant Young run one of Southern California’s most dynamic MMA gyms. Based in Pasadena, Calif., Fight Academy MMA trains

Fearless Fighting: A dynamic and energetic marketer, Amber Galvanosi sent MMA Business information about Fearless Fighting (the Greenville, North Carolina gym she co-owns with

Century Martial Arts; Jamie Gudell is Division Sales Manager for Century Martial Arts. With this experience, he works with experts on all sides of the industry, from product devel-

Barry & Jeff Meyer,

Tuff-N-Uff Productions; Barry and Jeff Meyer are the President and Vice President of Tuff-N-Uff Productions. Founded in 1994, Tuff-N-Uff is a Las Vegas-based proving ground for amateur fighters. It helped launch the MMA careers of pros such as Jon


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Fitch, Aaron Riley, Ryan Couture and Ronda Rousey. The Meyer brothers strive to help the younger generation of fighters pursue their dreams by helping them develop athletic skill, work ethic, discipline, sportsmanship, self-respect and pride. They’re helping build our sport.

Hans Molenkamp,

Molenkamp’s time as we could during the show. Molenkamp is President of Triumph United and Global Marketing Director for Osiris Shoes. He has also spent time at Throwdown, DC Shoes and SurfRide Board-

shops. His active-lifestyle industry experience – and success – will help all of us in this industry.

Greg Nelson,

ning. Why do we so value Nelson and his experience? If you know him, you know the answer to that question. If you don’t, realize that Nelson is a leading business owner, a trainer to MMA champions, a former

champ himself, a community service advocate, and he defines “Minnesota Nice.”

Pascal Pakter,

for both training and lifestyle enthusiasts. Pakter’s expertise in apparel design, production and sourcing has made him a go-to resource for companies both in and out of MMA. He speaks at industry events and

consults with several companies on ideas from operations to marketing.

Erik Paulson,

trains MMA champions and he travels the world to coach other coaches. And during the week, he rolls on the mats with the average Joe. All the while, he promotes a well-rounded discipline to “the arts” with

passion, integrity, humor and a commitment to long-term benefits.

Steve Pinado,

nesses more efficient and profitable. Pinado is a graduate of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and has built a career around his knowledge of financial services, business

operations and marketing. He’s a sports fan and youth sports coach, as well.

Kekoa Quipotla,

deep understanding of martial arts and his dynamic marketing skills to serve members and build a brand. He’s applied his advertising, promotions and business-building skills to serve new products as well

as athletes and personalities, including UFC fighters such as Vitor Belfort, Mark Hominick, GSP, and more.

Triumph United; We interviewed Hans Molenkamp in the December 2011 issue of MMA Business. We conducted that interview at Fight Summit in Las Vegas, taking as much of

The Academy; Greg Nelson owns The Academy, one of Minnesota’s leading MMA training centers, and he’s been a member of the MMA Business Advisory Board from the begin-

Do Or Die; Pascal Pakter is the most dynamic industry presence you’ve probably never heard of. His company, Do Or Die MMA apparel, makes high-quality MMA apparel

CSW Training Center; Erik Paulson is one of those rare professionals who can succeed at the top end of the industry worldwide and in his neighborhood every day. He

Member Solutions; As CEO of Member Solutions, Pinado helps lead this dynamic service provider in its goal of making member-based busi-

Tapout Training Center; Kekoa Quipotla brings a unique mix of marketing to Mixed Martial Arts. As owner of the Tapout Training Center in Las Vegas, Quipotla uses a

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% Social Coupons $ MMA

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wo things are hot as MMA right now: scoring great deals on products and services, and social networking sites. Combine the two, and the result is the latest iteration of the coupon, courtesy of services like Groupon and Living Social. Through these social coupon services, businesses of all kinds offer huge deals online for local consumers at a fraction of the original price and for a limited period, all in an effort to bring in large quantities of potential clients. As Mixed Martial Arts training centers become more and more web savvy, many are wondering whether they can use Groupon and Living Social as part of an effective marketing strategy. Some say the practice is not beneficial for MMA academies, and that those who take advantage of social coupons are “bottom-feeders,” moving from deal to deal scraping the bottom for low prices. Others have had found that these new promotions bring in big numbers. What’s the real story with Groupon and others like it? Is this a good way to use your marketing budget?

Truly Effective? Andres Moran, director of business development for MindBody, a business management service for health and wellness companies, 28

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described social coupons as substitutes for ads and coupons that consumers would find in newspapers, and they harness the exponential power of social networking. “It’s nothing new, it’s just a new spin on a fundamental business practice that’s been around since the Industrial Revolution,” he said. In a recent “60 Minutes” segment on CBS, Lesley Stahl’s voice-over intones that the businesses posting deals through Groupon “don’t necessarily make money. The offers are half-off to begin with, and Groupon takes nearly 50 percent of that. But it’s a marketing tool that gets people in the door.” Stahl adds, “Businesses complain Groupon customers come once, and never want to pay full price again.” Nikhil Joshi, manager at American Martial Arts Academy (AMAA), Fullerton, Calif., said working with social coupon services can be a learning process. In the past year, his academy established deals with both Groupon and Living Social. One was a great success in terms of finding and retaining new clients; the other, a failure, he said. Using Living Social, AMAA offered eight classes for $19, offered with a very limited time frame, so people had to jump fast to take advantage, Joshi said. “We had about

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160 people buy that deal,” he said. “Of that number, about 60 to 70 percent showed up.” And from that group, they converted about 50 to 60 percent into actual clients (50-60 new members). They also offered a Groupon deal, $10 for one class, and it was offered over a longer period of time. “We had a handful of people, no real conversions,” he said. “Having a set time and a set value is important,” he said. Danny Ives, owner of Ivey League MMA in Annapolis, Md., and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Lloyd Irvin, is not a fan of social coupons. As a principle, Ives said he does not believe in discounts. He charges $177 per month for his school, “But at the same time, I consider my facility to be the best of the best in the area.” Ives’ main concern with Groupon and Living Social is that the people who are attracted to social coupons are those who are there to take advantage of the deal – any deal, really. And they’re not coming to learn, he said. “People say you don’t get the most reliable people … they’re bottomfeeders,” he said. “Groupon ends, they’re gone, they say, ‘I don’t want to pay that’ … Is your time really worth that to get that many people in the door?”

Checking the Facts We considered doing some serious accounting here to show the bottom-line impact of these deals. The providers are, however, different in their structure. And we found this academic study instead. Utpal Dholakia, associate professor of management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, conducted a study on several daily deals services, and wrote a paper titled, “How Businesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-site Analysis of Groupon, LivingSocial, OpenTable, Travelzoo and BuyWithMe Promotions.”

Dholakia’s study looked at daily deals on five major sites in 23 U.S. markets, including a survey of 324 businesses that conducted a daily deal promotion between August 2009 and March 2011. “The major take-away from the study is that not enough businesses are coming back to daily deals to make the industry sustainable in the long run,” Dholakia said. “And our results show that the deals are nowhere close to the rates of financial success for participating businesses that some companies claim to be having.”

Key Findings from the Study 1

2 3 4

21.7 percent of deal buyers never redeem the vouchers they’ve already paid for. (That can be good for businesses in the short term, but delivers none of the long-term reward the business originally hoped for.) 55.5 percent of businesses reported making money, 26.6 percent lost money and 17.9 percent broke even on their promotions. Nearly 80 percent of deal users were new customers, but far fewer users spent beyond the deal’s value or returned to purchase at full price. 48.1 percent of businesses indicated they would run another daily deal promotion, 19.8 percent said they would not and 32.1 percent said they were uncertain.


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The MindBody Alternative Like a mom-and-pop corner store compared to Walmart, MindBody is an established boutique that has dedicated itself to assisting health-andwellness businesses. One fundamental difference between them and behemoths like Groupon and Living Social is that the ties between MindBody and its clients are inextricably linked, Moran said. “Taking care of these merchants is paramount to us. … We’re not charging $10,000 up front, but we know that if you use this tool, that in one year, we’re going to take you to profitability,” he said. “We have a vested interest in these people being successful. If they’re not successful, we’re not successful.” While a great deal of what MindBody has to offer deals with a web-based software that helps businesses manage everything from scheduling to billing to clients, they also offer techniques to recruit and retain membership. “Our approach, we understood that if you really wanted to get a large surge of bargain hunters, Groupon and Living Social would be your tools,” Moran said. “But, it’s kind of like drinking out of the fire hose. You’re going to get water, but you’re going to cough in the process – it’s not the best experience.” “So, our spin was we wanted to introduce daily deals with sites that had a neighborhood reach, that had a trickle effect into your business,” he said. “If you’re overwhelmed with a bunch of people … volume doesn’t mean you’re going to get a better conversion. It just means more volume.” There’s a great deal of factors that are considered for the deals MindBody offers, including how truly effective the deal will be not only to the business, but to the potential client, Moran said. Put simply, the higher the satisfaction, the better chance the person will be willing to sign up long-term. Take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a one-month deal may not be enough to show significant progress, and this might discourage the potential client from joining up, Moran said. “In a month, you are still going to feel backward with BJJ,” he said. However, in three months, an average student should begin showing signs of retaining what they have learned. So, you have to consider, “What is the time-frame in which a person can make a decision on whether the martial art is making a difference?” he said.


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Consumers Win. Can You, Too?

ø You might experience a staffing dilemma

It’s clear that social coupons have made an impact on how consumers buy their goods and services – consumers are definitely the winners with social coupons. Do they work for all businesses? Certainly not. In American Martial Arts Academy’s case, one of their deals was very successful; the other, not at all. It remains to be seen whether the coupons can benefit businesses in the long run. Tracy Sestili of socialstrand. com discusses four things for the small business owner to consider before signing on with a social coupon services: ø As stated in the 60 Minutes profile, Groupon takes 50 percent of your net sales, yet it encourages businesses to offer deals of at least 50 percent off. “So if you offer a deal of 50% off of a $40 service and offer it for $20, Groupon takes half, leaving you with $10 per sale for a $40 item,” Sestili told 60 Minutes. “Most small businesses don’t mark up their products by 400% in this economy.”

with a Groupon deal: You offer a deal, you get deluged with customers, far more than your current staff can handle. But the deal is fleeting, so you can’t simply hire temporary staffers just for the duration of the deal. When you offer a deal on Groupon that you can’t handle, customers become angry and disappointed and then walk away with a negative experience. ø You’ve taken careful consideration to set prices for the goods and services you offer. But selling a great deal of it at a quarter of the price may not be enough to keep you financially viable. You need to always figure how much of a product or service you need to sell at any price to make it work. ø The people who sign up for the deals are Groupon’s customers first, not yours. Groupon gets their information when they sign up for a deal, then it’s your responsibility to acquire their personal information and turn them into your customers.

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10 MYTHS About Youth Marketing S tory


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MYTH #1: YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SO DIFFERENT TODAY. Too often we make the mistake of labeling Millennials as being unlike any generation that came before. The question often arises, “don’t teens think and act differently now than they did 20 years ago?” In truth, there is a remarkable consistency among young people regardless of the decade in which they grew up. As far back as the 1920s, when teenagers were first observed as a demographic group, they cited relationships, family, jobs, money and independence as key concerns – just as they are often noted today. Despite the global and national change in cultural climate, teenagers and their primary concerns in life remain consistent. What fluctuates from decade to decade is how those concerns are addressed, not the concerns themselves. What does this mean for you? Kids today have most of the same concerns as you did; they’re not that foreign.

MYTH #2: THE ENVIRONMENT IS A KEY CONCERN FOR MOST YOUNG PEOPLE. Though it might sound contrary to popular belief, only about two percent of young people rank “the environment” as a primary focus when it comes to making purchases. A much larger percentage, nearly 10 times that amount, ranks financial matters as a primary motivation. Of course, teens do take note when a brand offers a positive contribution to the environment. But while young people value responsible brands, it may not always be enough to trump the cost of the goods in question when it comes to making a purchase decision. The environment is important to today’s youth, but with a less immediate, less tangible impact on day-to-day life, it ranks behind financial trepidations. Your main marketing themes need not focus on the green aspects of your business.

MYTH #3: A BRAND’S WEBSITE IS AN IMPORTANT MARKETING ASSET. It is common marketing lore that a brand must focus on its website as a primary marketing tool. Yes, young people are online and seek a brand’s product and story via digital engagement. Still, the most popular of today’s 300 million websites are not corporate webpages, but social media platforms YouTube, Facebook, and Google. The growth and preference of using social media by young people is well documented. The Ultimate Fighting Championship currently boasts a robust Facebook following of more than 7.5 million fans, and 500,000 or more Twitter followers. It continues to emphasize social media more than its own website. In the June 2010, Forbes Magazine reported that Facebook fans are 28 percent more likely to continue using a brand and 41 percent more likely to recommend the brand to a friend. Young people have too many options by which to be entertained or informed online to believe that they are going to spend significant time on one brand’s website. Social media is more targeted and allows a brand to demonstrate its personality.

MYTH #4: YOUNG PEOPLE DOMINATE SOCIAL MEDIA. It’s a myth that Generation Y dominates social media. Approximately 20 percent of Facebook’s 800 million users are young people. Twitter’s use by Millennials is even smaller, with only 18 percent of teen Internet users holding active accounts. Even brands that correctly identify social media as an effective medium must still develop a strategy so that efforts are not wasted on consumers outside of a target audience. W W W. M M A B U S I N E S S . C O M


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One of the greatest incentives for utilizing social media is the ability to focus exclusively on a chosen demographic, geography, or other key parameters. After a thoughtful and integrated social media plan is established, a brand stands to reach its audience in a relevant and effective way.

MYTH #5: DIY (DO IT YOURSELF) CULTURE IS A NEW PHENOMENON. Take for example the punk rock teens of the late 70s, the tie-dyed tribe of the 60s, or even the resourceful youth of the 50s – youth culture and its collective desire to customize and personalize has been fashionable throughout recent history. Today, the DIY tradition continues under the guidance of savvy brands like NikeID and Custom New Era Caps, two examples of companies allowing consumers to take control over elements like color and logo choice on trademark products. Other brands offer limited edition products (a more controlled manifestation of the DIY habit) available for a restricted time or through a select number of retailers. Some limited edition products are developed in conjunction with up-and-coming artists, like Mountain Dew’s Green Label Art: Shop Series, which featured on Mountain Dew cans the artwork of 35 different designers from skateboard shops across the country.

MYTH #6: AS THE MOST ETHNICALLY DIVERSE GENERATION IN HISTORY, BRANDS NEED TO SEGMENT CONSUMERS TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH THEM. Today’s generation is one of the most ethnically diverse in history. In fact, one in three of Millennials is non-Caucasian, according to Kit Yarrow and Jayne O’Donnell’s “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens and 20-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail.” Such diversity among Millennials does not necessarily mean brands must separate messaging according to ethnicity. Rather, the many cultures that make up the younger generation are more homogenous than their older demographic counterparts, and can largely be spoken to based on age and psychographic similarities rather than ethnic differences.


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MYTH #7: GAMING IS IRRELEVANT TO ME – I’M NOT IN THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY. The truth is that young people play video games for an average of almost two hours per day. In an age where attention spans are increasingly known for their brevity, two hours devoted to a singular activity becomes a unique and valuable opportunity to connect with young consumers. The gaming industry rakes in $18 billion in sales annually, dwarfing the movie industry by a substantial amount. For example, Grand Theft Auto IV made approximately $251 million more on its opening day than theater blockbuster Spiderman III. A deeper analysis of gaming provides marketers with an understanding of young people’s desire for communicating with their entertainment.

MYTH #8: TV AND PRINT ARE DYING. Yes, we’ve all heard the worrisome predictions that traditional media are on their way out, but the reality is much to the contrary. Millennials watch about two and a half hours of television per day, providing ample opportunity for brands to convey advertising messages within that time. The most notable difference between how youth consume broadcast media compared to habits born 20 years ago is the introduction of multiple screens. Young people often watch television at the same time that they surf the web and talk or text on their mobile phone. In addition, specialty and endemic (sport/music/gaming specific) media continues to thrive. According to a recent survey conducted as part of Fuse’s Teen Advertising Study, 68 percent of teens indicated regular magazine consumption. Brands that can embrace a multi-channel approach to reaching an audience, including seamless integration of broadcast, digital, and print media, have the best chances of success.

MYTH #9: MUSIC (AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY) IS LESS IMPORTANT TO YOUNG PEOPLE, AND THEREFORE TO MARKETERS, TOO. A great myth is that music is in any way less important today than it was for previous generations. Music has never been more important or more accessible than it is to Millennials. Young people spend more than five hours per day listening to music, and even more time discussing it with their friends or reading about favorite bands online or in magazines. Single tracks or entire albums can be listened to digitally, new artists are discovered on social media networks, and fans gather on forums to discuss a band’s recent release. Game changers like iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora have recognized this shift in consumption habits. They now ramp up music content and present it in a way that consumers desire.

MYTH #10: TEXTING (AKA MOBILE MARKETING) IS AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO REACH YOUNG PEOPLE. A smart brand recognizes current media habits of a young demographic, but just because teens are more connected than ever to their phones does not mean mobile marketing will reach them with positive results. Fuse’s Teen Advertising Study discovered that only 10 percent of young people say it is okay for brands to text them. While it is true that teens like texting, it’s with each other and not with brands. In fact, mobile marketing might have a starkly negative effect, as commercial messages intrude on a user’s sense of intimacy with friends, and are considered an unwanted interruption of private conversations. Ten Myths About Youth Marketing was first presented at Fight Summit in December 2011 by guest speaker Bill Carter, partner at leading youth culture marketing services firm, Fuse. Bill has advised some of the most successful companies in America, including P&G, Pepsi, Yahoo!, Sony, NBC, Harley-Davidson, Ford Motor Company, Gatorade, Converse, and others. He has received Fast Company magazine’s Fast 50 Award for his impact on popular culture and was awarded Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award as one of the “most influential and important young executives in sports.” For more information about Fuse, visit 36

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o + Bill Carter of Fuse.

+ When acquired by ABG, Tapout’s office and warehouse in Southern California was a living visual representation of the brand’s style and attitude. The office was quickly closed by ABG.

S t o r y

G l e n n

B y

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TAPOUT: whatever happened to mma’s former thousand-pound gorilla? W W W. M M A B U S I N E S S . C O M


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being the biggest can be both a blessing and a curse. tapout held that rank in mma for years. the company maintained an ultradominant image in mixed martial arts.

At its peak, the Tapout logo was more visible and the brand more recognizable than even the UFC. Every fan, hard-core or casual, of Mixed Martial Arts heard of Tapout. Walk through any airport in the country and you would see at least one person wearing a Tapout t-shirt. Head down to the local MMA gym and a majority of students were wearing Tapout shorts. That kind of exposure is great for business, and Tapout’s dominance attracted the Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to pay reportedly hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the company from the team of Dan “Punkass” Caldwell, Tim “Skyskrape” Katz, and Marc Kreiner. At the same time, countless competitors will always pressure the top dog, and that burden to remain No. 1 can remove focus from the brand’s core brand identity. ABG acquired Tapout roughly 18 months ago. Through that period, industry observers and brand followers alike have wondered what is happening at Tapout. Suddenly, you didn’t hear much about the brand, and the well-recognized logo wasn’t everywhere. At Fight Summit, last December in Las Vegas, we heard someone ask, “What ever happened to Tapout?” MMA Business wondered, too – out loud – and went to the source for an update. We first contacted ABG offices in Toronto, and spoke with Nick Woodhouse, the company’s new chief marketing officer. And we spoke with several industry experts, including gym owners, product manufacturers and apparel distributors to get a more complete understanding of this story. Interesting, but none of these experts would speak “on the record” about Tapout today. For background, recall that Authentic Brands Group – a brand development and licensing company with offices in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles – acquired Tapout, along with the Silver Star Casting Company, in September 2010. It was the company’s first acquisition in the MMA industry. MMA Business spoke with Jamie Salter, ABG’s chairman and CEO, shortly after the purchase. He indicated a desire to maintain Tapout’s MMA brand strength while building the brand into a well-known athletic company, making comparisons to Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.

TAPOUT TODAY So where is ABG in its path to broaden Tapout’s appeal? With merely anecdotal “evidence,” the Tapout brand is less visible today than it was at the time of ABG’s acquisition. All of our industry sources agree. Where it seemed Tapout t-shirts and truck-window stickers were everywhere two years ago, they are less visible today.


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“For sure it’s become less visible,” said Nick Woodhouse, “but not because of ABG. There is so much happening in MMA right now, and so many more players in the MMA market, that Tapout is in a bigger and more crowded space.” One of our large distributor contacts agreed with Woodhouse that there is a “dilution of brands in the industry” due to a growth in number of players. This distributor no longer carries Tapout due to reduced demand for the products. Watch any televised MMA event, and you’ll see an increasing diversity of brands – especially apparel companies – working to serve this market. Dethrone Royalty, for one, was formed as recently as 2009 and has put its walkout tees on such fighters as Josh Koscheck and Cain Velasquez. Still, at a recent UFC fight, Tapout logos were evident on cutmen. And the company announced recently that Tapout is now the “official lifestyle apparel brand of the UFC.” The multi-year deal will provide Tapout exposure at UFC events on Pay-Per-View, FX and Fuel TV. But is this what ABG wants to do with Tapout, simply make it the biggest brand in MMA, which it already was? What has the company been doing with the brand since the acquisition? That’s what we asked Woodhouse (and we got him in his first week on the new job). “The first 18 months has been a lot

+ LEFT: Tapout recently launched a new website, and it includes images of amateur athletes like this young man as it works to extend the brand into general sports and fitness. + BELOW: At the recent MAGIC fashion industry show in Las Vegas, Tapout used this display to launch the “My Fight Matters. Does Yours?” tagline.

of clean up, to be honest,” he said. “We were making sure we stayed true to the sport of MMA. But we also know we need to be diverse to grow this. And we’ve been working to make a closer connection to the fitness side of the sport.”


like to call them the Voice of Reason,” said Woodhouse. “They’re actively involved, working on athlete selection in particular, and they’re 100 percent part of the team.” “We will never move from our MMA roots,” said Woodhouse. “The brand is still incredibly strong. And we’re going to take it to the next level, and that’s not just cheerleading. In the next few weeks, I can share with you more about our plans. We’re not exactly where we want to be yet.”

One look at the company’s recently revamped website shows that Tapout is after a more diverse sports-and-fitness audience. Rotating athlete images include MMA regulars Ryan Bader and Chael Sonnen as well as a close-up of Patrick Kane, of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. The site recently included a picture of a youngster in hockey gear – and a Tapout mouth guard – but that image is now gone. “This is the direction of the new Tapout,” said Woodhouse. “We are rooted in fight, and that won’t change. But we are broadening. And the athletes love it, too,” he said, referring to the mix of athletes represented on the site. “We’re happy to show them because they’re the base of this.” According to Woodhouse, the message with the site can be “Everybody has a fight,” whether it’s in the octagon or it’s in the day-to-day. “The word ‘Tapout’ means a lot to a lot of people,” he said. “Nike and Adidas can’t be a verb, like Tapout.” “Let’s face it, MMA is going mainstream,” said Woodhouse, “and its helped with the Fox-UFC deal. We’re not going to ignore the core consumer, but the overall consumer base has gotten a bit wider.” ABG is confident that it is • THE HIGHEST QUALITY PRODUCTS • ARE YOU A GYM, STORE, well positioned to benefit from this broadening base. Even IN MMA AND BJJ OR FIGHT TEAM OWNER? the hiring of Woodhouse fits that example. The new ex• LOW MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS TO ecutive spent more than 20 years working for The Forzani • GET STARTED OPEN WHOLESALE ACCOUNTS WHOLESALING & MAKING Group, Canada’s largest retailer of sporting goods, workFOR GYM OWNERS AND TRAINERS GREAT MONEY NOW ing his way up from a sales associate to vice president. • GET 10% OFF BY MENTIONING THIS In mid-February this year, Tapout exhibited at MAG• GET GEAR FOR YOUR AD ON YOUR FIRST ORDER STUDENTS, CUSTOMERS IC, the clothing and fashion industry’s biggest annual AND FIGHTERS trade show. While setting up for the show, Tapout teased CONTACT SALES AT ANDRE@RIOFIGHTWEAR.COM its Facebook fans with a picture of its new show display. While the booth did have images of Ryan Bader plus an athlete shadow boxing, the connection to Mixed Martial Arts was soft, at best. Does this mean Tapout is losing its hard-edged connec8789 E. Tanque Verde 309 tion to MMA? And what about the iconic and highly visible Tucson, AZ 85749 Tim “Skyskrape” Katz and Dan “Punkass” Caldwell – are Toll Free 1-800-764-1171 they still actively working to keep Tapout a vital MMA brand? Email: COUPON CODE: 10% OFF “We keep a great connection to Skrape and Punk. I Website:




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BUSINESS BY THE NUMBERS Combine to Retire When it comes to retirement planning, many business owners are looking to make up for lost time by making larger contributions in the few working years remaining. One way to accomplish this end is to establish a defined benefit pension plan. But for those with a greater appetite for a tax-deductible contribution, are there any other options? Combining two types of qualified retirement plans can provide a unified, optimal plan design. A defined benefit/profit sharing combination offers business owners an opportunity to maximize retirement savings (via the defined benefit plan) while retaining significant flexibility in the flow of contributions from year to year (with the profit sharing approach). The Pension Protection Act (PPA) has had a significant impact on defined benefit plans. One change affects the limit on contributions when there is more than one plan. In the last several years, a defined benefit plan can be funded at the maximum level and still have room for a profit sharing plan on top. Now if the defined benefit plan is subject to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a profit sharing plan allows for an employer contribution of 25 percent. If the defined benefit plan is not subject to the PBGC, then the limit on the employer contribution to the profit sharing plan is 6 percent of pay over the maximum contribution to the defined benefit plan. Is This Combination for You? When the business owner is older, particularly within a dozen years of anticipated retirement, and is looking to make the maximum deductible contribution, a traditional defined benefit plan is a good place to start. Selecting a formula that will provide a guaranteed retirement benefit of 80 to100 percent of pay may be possible. Such a generous formula would be particularly attractive if the business owner were the sole employee, or if the only others in the business were a business partner or family member. If there were few other employees who were much younger than the owner, these additional participants might




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not increase plan costs significantly. Once the optimal defined benefit plan is selected, layer on a profit sharing plan. With very small businesses, the 6 percent contribution limit will be applied. The way the 6 percent is allocated can also favor the business owner. For example, if the plan is an owner-only arrangement, the owner gets 6 percent of pay. But if there are only a few employees, and if they are markedly younger, perhaps a profit sharing plan allocated on a new comparability basis would be the right design, providing substantially more to the owner. The total employer contribution would still be within the 6 percent allowance, but more dollars would be going to the owner than to the younger participants. The important advantage of this combined plan approach is flexibility. Since PPA, traditional defined benefit plans enjoy significantly more flexibility than they have in recent years. When business circumstances demand it, the plan sponsor can contribute near the maximum level or closer to the minimum, with the understanding that in future years, the funding will reflect this higher or lower deposit. And profit sharing plan contributions are discretionary. When money is tight, the contribution can be reduced or even skipped. 401k deferrals are even more flexible, for these can be increased or decreased in the midst of the plan year.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, MetLife is providing you with the following notification: The information contained in this document is not intended to (and cannot) be used by anyone to avoid IRS penalties. This document supports the promotion and marketing of insurance products. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. MetLife, its agents, and representatives may not give legal or tax advice. Any discussion of taxes herein or related to this document is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be complete or cover every situation. Tax law is subject to interpretation and legislative change. Tax results and the appropriateness of any product for any specific taxpayer may vary depending on the facts and circumstances. You should consult with and rely on your own independent legal and tax advisers regarding your particular set of facts and circumstances.

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Legend Gains Exposure

India’s Super Fight League

With its first event scheduled for March 11 in Mumbai, India, the new Super Fight League is India’s fight professional MMA league. Formed by Raj Kundra, entrepreneur and husband to Bollywood Celebrity Shilpa Shetty, and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, the SFL has hired MMA agent Ken Pavia as its CEO. The group’s COO is Daniel Isaac, India Kickboxing title holder. Founder and SFL Chairman Raj Kundra calls himself “a huge MMA fan,” and says he hates to see India get left behind the rest of the world of MMA growth. By scheduling its inaugural event in Mumbai, the SFL will bring an international mix of MMA fighters to India’s largest city and the fourth largest city in the world. Future SFL events are scheduled for India’s capitol city of New Delhi, and nearby Chandigarh. Scheduled fighters are from France, the Unites States, India, Egypt, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. Six of the event’s eight bouts will feature fighters from India.

MMA in China?

Beginning Feb. 11 with the Legend 7 event in Macau, the Legend Fighting Championships began broadcasting live fights on its YouTube channel ( LegendFCMMA). The free live stream covered the event’s undercard and was available worldwide, with the exception of Macau and Hong Kong. With this event and new broadcast, Legend relaunched its YouTube channel, which now will feature full fights from past Legend events, “best of” highlights videos, and behindthe-scenes footage. In a press release, Legend co-founder Chris Pollak stated, “With the huge and growing interest in Legend’s unique brand of elite Asia-Pacific MMA, we decided to utilize YouTube – one of the most powerful broadcast platforms on the internet – to reach additional fans outside of the 10 countries where we are already broadcast.” Legend also announced an exclusive distribution and syndication agreement with ESPN International, which will serve as the sole distribution agent of all Legend broadcast content in Asia, Oceania, the Indian sub-continent, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

For a better understanding of MMA activity in China, we spoke with Jordan Morley, an American who has been living and working in Shanghai for nine years. A few years back, Morley and a small group of MMA fans convinced a local bar owner to host a UFC pay-per-view. That has turned into literally hundreds of people now flocking to bars on Sunday mornings to catch the UFC fights that run in the States on Saturday evenings. Morley took his passion for MMA even further, and is now one of the country’s only trained MMA judges; he and his brother studied in Toronto recently under MMA referee Big John McCarthy’s tutelage. With fight promotions like Legend gaining exposure, China and its martial artists could have a big impact on MMA. The most populous nation in the world, and the second largest by land area, China is incredibly diverse. “There is Mixed Martial Arts in Xi’an,” said Morley. “And Team Quest had some fighters there to train.” This old city in east-central China is part of the nation’s economic revitalization. MMA is less popular in Shanghai, Morley’s adopted home and China’s most populous city. And amateur MMA training is rare, with the city’s ultra-high rent and real estate making our version of gym ownership quite difficult. “There is Shanghai BJJ,” said Morley, “but it’s very focused on BJJ and is not an MMA place.” Wrestling has ancient roots in China. That martial art is part of what propelled Zhang Tiequan to become the first Chinese fighter in the UFC. Perhaps he can become the Yao Ming for a rising base of MMA fans in China. NBA star Yao Ming was China’s first true American basketball star, and he spurred a surge of NBA fans in China. “There is a growing interest in China, but it’s still small,” said Morley. “And there is some coverage of UFC now in the Mandarin language.” Still, according to Morley, MMA is simply non-existent to most Chinese citizens. 42

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YOURGYM NAME: Tapout Training Center LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada OWNER: Kekoa Quipotla and Greg Amador YEARS IN BUSINESS: 2.5 DISCIPLINES: MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Judo & More!

When the Tapout R&D Training Center opened in Las Vegas in July 2009, Tapout was by far the biggest thing in MMA. The brand’s name was a near guarantee of success, and licensing opportunities for the company were coming in faster than a Chael Sonnen takedown. MMA Business interviewed the Tapout trio of Punkass, Skyskrape and Marc Kreiner in mid 2010, and the team indicated it hoped to open more training centers. “Our goal is to open 20 Tapout Training Centers a year, at least,” said Punkass in 2010. That goal was not met. (Authentic Brands Group acquired Tapout in the fall of 2010. See “Where’s Tapout Today” on page 37). But, to the good fortune of Las Vegas residents, this training center had been fully operational for a year already, and they’re still going strong. 44

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Today, Kekoa Quipotla owns the 18,000 square-foot Tapout Training Center along with Greg Amador under a license direct through ABG. Though the name and Tapout logo on the building’s exterior might scream “MMA fighting” to a lot of passersby, Quipotla has worked to make the facility a well-rounded training center focused on training the martial arts. “A lot people say, ‘I’ve been driving past this gym and was kinda scared to come in.’ Like it’s a super hard-core MMA fight place,” said Quipotla. “Yes, we have cages and rings, and it can look hard-core at first. But we have a lot of women and kids and recreational athletes here. Instead of parents taking their kids to baseball or basketball, they’re coming to Tapout.” The business currently has more than 200 kids in regular training. “The

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kids can come and do a boxing or Muay Thai class,” he said, “then a Jiu Jitsu class. This is a standard that we want kids to do, a stand-up and a ground class in the same day.” Within what might be known as an MMA training center, Quipotla is focusing on teaching and training the disciplines of traditional martial arts, many complete with belt rankings. “When I was a kid taking Taekwondo, I remember what I learned. And now I think we’re going in a great direction. I have two MMA classes out of the 60 classes we have per week,” he said. Quipotla said the business didn’t lose any regular “MMA” types by focusing so much attention on traditional martial arts. “Sure, we have had people come in thinking they could do an MMA fight after just a little bit of training. And we may have

lost them when we talked more about training in the traditions of martial arts.” Of course, like at so many training centers nationwide, 95 percent of the members at Tapout in Vegas will never fight, said Quipotla. The gym does have a team including pro and amateur fighters. “But even they’re learning traditional techniques of Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, all the foundations of the disciplines,” said Quipotla. “And this is MMA, the continuous evolution of traditional martial arts.” Marketing in the Mecca If it’s all about location, the Tapout Training Center has a good one. But so do several other big-name MMA facilities within just a few miles of Tapout. “We try to keep our members as happy as possible,” said Quipotla. “Las Vegas is small, and word of mouth is very strong here. We are fortunate to have this huge brand

behind us, but that alone doesn’t bring people in. So we’ve had to focus on making a great first impression; we’d like to be the ‘Cheers’ of MMA. And we should feel privileged that people want to come visit us and train here. We want to become a destination instead of a gym.” Quipotla said they concentrate on giving people huge value. For one price, all members have access to all the center has to offer. “From 9 am to 9 pm, people can come and train; it’s $99 for all classes each month,” he said. “Some of the other gyms around here have changed their practices because of our structure.” Tapout Today Along with a new head coach for the Tapout fight team (Ron Frazier), the Tapout facility is making changes to welcome more top fighters who might be in town for training. “We’re developing our Pro Room for when big names come in and

want private training,” said Quipotla. This includes a private entrance and other special services that we have available.” To better serve all members and the focus on so many traditional martial arts, Quipotla said they’ve also “moved some things around so we can have more mat area.” He said, “We took out a lot of the weights because they weren’t serving our needs. We’re a class-oriented facility, not a weight-lifting gym.” Not new at the Tapout Training Center is Quipotla’s focus on cleanliness. “It’s a huge focus for us,” he said. “I do a walk through every morning, and even a stray water bottle is unacceptable. This place belongs to everyone, and the people who train here understand that and help us take care of it. It’s a pride thing – take care of what you have.” Quipotla and the team at Tapout Las Vegas seem to be taking good care of their own.



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A Zebra Dummies

Zebra introduces a new line of dummies, including three sizes of MMA Dummy (70, 100, and 130 pounds) designed for Judo, BJJ, MMA or ground-npound training. This dummy can be used to practice throwing techniques, or for a number of other moves. It features a solid base with no legs so it stands up easily. Also available are new Zebra Grappling Dummies (including a 55-pound Junior size as well as 70, 100 and 120-pound sizes), a Submission Dummy (pictured) with full arms and legs, and a Hangman Dummy including heavy-duty straps and a D-Ring for hanging from a bag rack. See, or call 800-989-8085.


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The Fuji four-ounce regulation-weight gloves are designed for MMA training. These gloves are designed for safety, comfort and protection. Premium leather construction makes them durable, and high-quality foam padding adds hand and knuckle protection. The double-layer wrist straps with an inner, elasticized hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit. A soft inner liner adds to the overall comfort. Go to www. or call 800-757-7686 to inquire about wholesale opportunities.



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Warrior Mist is a topically applied pain-relief liquid that is all natural and easy to use. The product – available in two-ounce bottles – includes Dimethyl Sulfoxide or DMSO which has been used in medicines for nearly 50 years, and the related chemical MSM. Warrior Mist also contains peppermint oil, olive oil, lavender oil and other natural ingredients. Visit

D iJudge Fights

More than just a fun app, iJudgeFights is a tool that lets you score and judge MMA fights. By creating a profile and keeping score through this tool, your fight judging is shared with others, allowing you to engage with other “judges” anywhere in the world. As the official app of Command, Big John McCarthy’s referee and judging school, your participation can help improve the way judges are trained and tested. The site also allows you to post your thoughts directly to Twitter and Facebook. Check it out at


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OUTSIDE THE OCTAGON Earn Respect For the biggest American sports franchises, the world is their arena. For years now, both the NBA and NFL have taken their games overseas in hopes of building larger collections of fans – fans who will spend money on their favorite teams and related businesses. As the big name in MMA, UFC has been making its own international inroads with past events in Brazil, Germany and England, among other international sites. And UFC has upcoming events in Japan, Australia and Sweden. The UFC leadership likes to boast about the international appeal of its brand of Mixed Martial Arts. In Australia, England and the Middle East, MMA does have great appeal. The UFC’s entertainment enterprise helps with some of that. Part of the attraction also comes from enthusiastic interest in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu among other arts. Expanding this international attention could certainly be good for American MMA fighters and businesses. But it’s not as simple as taking our American MMA show on the road and waiting for the international business boost. As coach of the U.S. Olympic Judo team, I travel extensively for training and competition, and am often reminded that parts of the world are not interested in MMA. What’s worse, in some countries our Mixed Martial Arts fighting is scoffed as too violent and its athletes too arrogant. Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation, has made it clear that under his leadership, the sport of Judo wants nothing to do with MMA. Without an understanding of Judo’s place as a world sport, some Americans might dismiss Vizer’s attitude, or consider him simply a martial arts traditionalist. It’s important to know, however, that Judo is a major sports activity in many Asian and European nations. And that Vizer is a respected and progressive sports industry leader. And regardless of what Vizer might say, Judo has one thing MMA does not – an Olympic presence that puts Judo on a positive stage in front of the whole world. Judo earned that, and the sport



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continues to exhibit the same ethics that build the Olympic tradition – those are fair play, peaceful competition, and respect for opponents and the art. How is MMA most visible on a world stage? It’s most often presented in terms of the UFC and its pro fighters. That means MMA is defined as guys with murderous nicknames who want to ravage their opponents in a cage. MMA is then associated with prideful showmanship and crude behavior, not the Olympic ideals of respect and sportsmanship. What the world doesn’t see is MMA as it’s practiced in smaller local venues, and at MMA training centers like yours. They don’t see the Mixed Martial Arts classes that unite a variety of amateur and recreational athletes for fun and fitness benefits. They don’t see up-and-coming fighters who have been trained in traditional arts, and who step in and out of the octagon with respect for both the sport and their opponents. If we could show your MMA to the world, Vizer’s attitude might be different. We all want MMA to grow, at home and around the world. As we do, we can grow our businesses and establish a solid base for long-term success. At all levels, MMA athletes need to present a professional demeanor that exhibits respect for martial arts and for their opponents. Of course, many MMA fighters do this now, but they’re often not in the media spotlight, and they’re not gaining the camera time at UFC weigh-ins or fights. If MMA wants global success and an Olympic audience, it needs to fight for and earn respect. Jimmy Pedro has earned two Olympic Bronze medals, and was Judo World Champion at 73 kg in 1999. He is active as a USA Judo national team coach and as owner of the Pedro Judo Center. Now as a vice president for Zebra, a leading provider of facility equipment for martial arts and MMA businesses nationwide, Pedro has a wealth of experience in the industry.

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MMA Business magazine  

The only trade publication dedicated to the Mixed Martial Arts industry.