I’m often asked by aspiring fighters about the role of fight managers and whether they are really needed. My short answer is “no”, a fight manager is not needed in the beginning of your career. What is needed is somebody you “the fighter” can trust and rely on to give you sound advice. Whether that’s your parents, a friend, or a fellow fighter, it’s important that you know whomever you’ve entrusted has your best interest at heart and understands the MMA landscape at a basic level.
A trainer may act as your interim fight manager at the beginning of your career. Although I’m a firm believer that a trainer and a fight manager are two entirely different roles, a trainer can also be someone you trust as you navigate the regional MMA scene. Once you’ve become more familiar with the business side of MMA and your fight record is growing, I would then suggest a professional fight manager be brought in to oversee your career. Word of caution when seeking out fight managers; ultimately whoever you decide upon, should also have an established relationship with your trainer, or at the very least, your trainer and fight manager need to build a solid working relationship. It will help, knowing your inner circle is on the same page and shares a common goal in guiding you with the best training and management possible.
Another common question that comes up is “ What you should pay your fight manager?”. While your trainer may already take a cut of your purse, it’s standard in the industry to pay your manager a percentage as well. This is a negotiation between you and your in-coming manager and is based solely on the level of service they will provide. A fight manager’s role is not just to obtain your fights (that’s called a fight finder) but also to oversee and coordinate your fights, obtain sponsorships/endorsements, prepare fight gear, obtain medicals, work with the media, book travel and assist corner teams, etc. It’s a very wide spectrum of work a manager must do behind the scenes. Your manager will also take a cut of any cash sponsors which they, themselves obtain as this is industry standard. Again, you will need to negotiate with your manager how much they will be taking in terms of sponsorship money obtained. If your manager is good at obtaining the right fights, legitimate sponsorships and all the other necessary items that go with being a fight manager, then they are worth every dollar you spend on them. Too often, a fighter may not have representation of any sort and they are fed to the wolves by unscrupulous promoters. Don’t be that guy…
Once you’ve made your selection as to whom your fight manager is going to be, it’s best you put it down on paper; for legal reasons, to cover yourself and your manager. You can obtain the legal documentation from your state’s Athletic Commission, along with adding any addendum’s you and your manager feel are necessary. Always remember to include a buy-out clause or arbitration in your contract; should you feel the need to leave your manager, assuming they have not performed the duties of the contract and of course, you will need to determine the length of the contract.
The next step in working with your fight manager is determining your career path. Most fighters start out in their region climbing the ranks of the local fight promotions. Does your manager know the local promotions and does he have established relationships with them? Or better yet, do your manager’s promotional contacts extend outside your region, should obtaining local fights prove challenging for you? It’s a common problem once you start to build a name for yourself but aren’t quite eligible for one of the big shows yet. At this point you will need to find a higher level, mid-tier promotion, to further develop your game and name outside your region.
There are many, great, mid-tier promotions out there that can prepare you for the MMA big leagues, but it’s your manager who ultimately will need to utilize his relationships and match you with the right promotion. Next, are you destined for one of the big shows? At that point it’s critical for your manager to have a good working relationship with the Matchmakers and Owners of the largest fight promotions in the world. When trying to get picked up by one of the big promotions, it’s not enough to just place calls, tweet’s or emails. Your manager should be in regular contact with the big shows while you’re developing your game in the region, letting them know who you are and continuing to market your fighting skills, via regular con calls, photo’s, media highlight clips, editorials and more. At the end of the day, it’s your manager’s job to create a buzz about you, while partnering with the local and national media scene to further get your name out there.
I wish you all the success with your MMA career,
MMAGOLD Owner/Fight Manager