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I was able to catch up with Ron Foster, a former MMA fighter and the man in charge of making the magic happen for the rapidly accelerating Shine Fight Promotions.

Shine Fights vaulted into the MMA spotlight with the star-studded lineup of their second event, titled "ATT vs. The World".  The card featured a compelling and diverse blend of both experienced veterans as well as promising up and comers, such as Yves Edwards, Roan Carneiro, Micah Miller, Jorge "Macaco" Patino, Junior Assuncao, and Luis "Buscape" Firmino.

Shine Fights has been swallowing up oodles of talent as of late, signing former pro boxer Ricardo Mayorga (who will make his MMA debut for the promotion in March of 2010), Murilo "Ninja" Rua, and Russian fighter Alexander Shlemenko, to name a few.  The upcoming Shine card will feature Mayorga's debut against a yet to be announced opponent (although Din Thomas is quite vocally lobbying for the fight), Hector Lombard vs. Alexandre "Cacareco" Ferreira, the rematch between Luis Azeredo and Luis "Buscape" Firmino from their stellar fight at Pride Bushido 6, and exciting Luta Livre fighter Luciano Azevedo versus the HIT Squad's BJJ coach, Kyle Watson.

 

Tell me the story about how Shine Fights was started and how you got hooked up with the Price brothers as matchmaker?

Shine was started in Dec 2008.  Devin, Dorian and I were talking about how we could make this sport better for the fighters. We thought about going into managing fighters at first but we decided having our own event would be the best way to go. I volunteered to take on the job as match maker because it was something that I felt I could do well.  In January of 2009, we began planning our first event: SHINE Fights (Genesis) in Columbus, Ohio--and now here we are.

I met Devin and Dorian Price in May of 2007 in Washington D.C. At the time I was with the Yamasaki Academy and was preparing to fight Kyle Baker, and Dorian was there to corner Patrick Barrentime as he fought Antwain Britt.  We all became great friends and pretty much have talked every single day since.

I know you’re a huge fan of the sport, so can you list a few of your all-time favorite fighters, and also some of your favorite fights in the history of MMA?

Some of my favorite fighters not in order are: Anderson Silva, Quinton Jackson, and Nick Diaz. A few of favorite fights were:  Fedor vs Big Nog #1, Nick Diaz vs Gomi, Rampage vs Vandy #2.

I would estimate that being an MMA matchmaker is one of my top “dream jobs”, but that’s only because I envision myself being highly overcompensated to sit in an office, put my feet up, and study footage of fights and fighters all day while creating what I think are the most appealing match-ups that the budget would allow. How close is that to reality?  What are your overall responsibilities as the Shine Fights matchmaker, and what does the average day entail for you?

LOL!! I wish it was that easy! Ok this is my day:

6:00 AM- getting up and getting ready for work, checking my emails and voicemails from the previous evening (on average 100 to 150 emails every single day). Get the kids up for school at 7:15am showers, breakfast and out the door at 8:30.  Start work at 9:00 as an Active Duty US Army Recruiter just south of Cleveland, Ohio area.

I’m working hard to stay on task with my job as a recruiter talking to people about how the Army can change their lives and help get them a college education.  I’m trying to ignore my Blackberry as it’s going off nonstop throughout the day. But any free moment that I get I do make the normal phone calls to my Mom, Dad, sisters, and brothers, Devin, Dorian, Alex Davis, Marc Fiore, Brian Butler, Jorge Guimaraes, and my wife.

It seems like a lot but I have a routine. Eat lunch around 12:00 or so and then head back to my office in Brunswick, trying to get a sneek peek at MMA Junkie, Sherdog, or MMA Weekly as I’m back at my desk. I have 50 phone calls to make to high school seniors trying to convince them that the army is the way to go--this is such a hard job! Now, I’m looking to read the other 100 emails or so that I didn’t get to this morning. About 5 PM I’m rolling out the door, checking my voicemail (which is almost full), and returning calls to all over the country.

Pick up the kids around 6 PM, then its dinner time. I m hiding my BlackBerry under the table as I check new emails and texts as they come in, and my wife is giving me the stink eye. 7:30 or so, conference call with the team, any new developments, new fighters on the radar, and so on and so forth. 9 PM I’m on the net looking at fight videos, new articles, and trying to come up with plans to help Shine grow. 12: 00 AM I’m going to sleep and getting ready to do it all over again.

Shine has been spending money on some amazing fighters lately—from a dollars and cents standpoint, what can you tell me about the funding and/or financial backing for Shine Fights?  How is Shine able to swallow up so much amazing talent so quickly?

Shine has some very solid financial back. My CEO Devin Price has a great mind for business and has never failed in any business ventures.

Shine has really raised some eyebrows with some major acquisitions lately, which can be viewed as a double edged sword—it brings the advantages of star power and immediate recognition, but carries with it the risk of long term financial prosperity.  What are some of the steps that Shine Fight Promotions is taking to secure a stable future and avoid the fate of other organizations that have come strong out of the gate, but ended up falling short?

I believe because we are such a new company we need those big named fighters to really become the foundation of our organization. The big name fighters will get the fans looking our way, and when they stop and watch, they will see that Shine is more than just another up and coming org.  But we are becoming a big player in the MMA world. We have a great plan to be successful; we will be fine, trust me.

Would you agree that Shine is targeting a global market versus concentrating on only the American audience, and if so, how does Shine Fights intend to reach such a broad landscape?  Is this one of the reasons Shine has used the method of streaming live shows over the internet?

I definitely agree with you.  One thing that I realized is that the best fighters are not just in the U.S. but all over the world. For us, it only made sense to explore the world and bring some fresh faces to the MMA scene here in the U.S. We had some success with the online streaming but we’re working on some other deals for Shine that I can’t really discuss at the moment--but shine will become a worldwide player in MMA.

What can you tell me about the type of contract that Shine offers to fighters?  From what I’ve seen, the deals definitely look to be non-exclusive for the most part, correct?

For the most part we are doing multi fight deals that are exclusive to the U.S. The fighters have the option to fight anywhere outside of the states.

Although the UFC now dominates the market, they do offer somewhat of a path to follow for other promotions looking for success.  We’ve seen Strikeforce excel as a UFC competitor by following a lot of their steps, but for out at separates them is the two areas where they’ve dared to venture that the UFC did not: co-promotion and women’s MMA.   Does Shine Fights plan on breaking any new ground like this?

We are looking to get involved in women’s MMA very soon. We did have a female fight scheduled for our last show but it was later dropped due to issues with one of the fighters.

Is co-promotion something that’s being entertained by Shine Fights?

Co-promotion is something that Shine is very interested in as long as it benefits both parties. We are very open to the idea.

Your roster has quickly developed to include a group of big names in different weight classes, and although there have been a few attempts elsewhere, one of the other elements that I feel has been missing since Pride disappeared is the tournament format, which was tremendously popular with hardcore MMA fans.  Have you ever considered hosting a Gran Prix style tournament in Shine Fights?

That idea has come up several times. Our MW division is very good, and I think we could have a very good grand prix, but I think more importantly we need to continue to build our brand before we start doing things too far out of the box. Later on I think we will have a couple of Grand Prix, though.

Shine has recently added two of my all-time favorite fighters (and also the two MMA fighters that are probably most mistaken for each other) to their roster in Luis Azeredo and Luciano Azevedo.  These two have been the type that have flown under the radar screen so to speak, and are a little under-appreciated and underrated in my opinion.  I feel that both fighters are ultra-exciting and will be a huge hit with the American audience.  Do you agree, and what inspired you to place these fighters under contract with Shine?

The funny thing about these two rising stars is that they hold victories over top fighters in the world.  Luciano Azevedo is the only fighter to beat the #1 145’er  in the world, Jose Aldo; and Luis Azeredo holds a victory over the #1 185’er in the world, Anderson Silva.  Both of these guys are super exciting and when they hit the U.S market, they will take it by storm!

Shine made a huge acquisition with the signing of renegade boxer Ricardo Mayorga, who is being considered the best and most formidable boxing representative ever to enter MMA.  How did the deal with Mayorga come about, and how do you feel he will perform in the cage?

This deal came to place when Mayorga was introduced to my CEO Devin Price in Miami, FL. Mayorga said he wanted to fight MMA, and 7 days later we were putting it on paper. Mayorga has a huge name in combat sports and he is a warrior.  He is taking this fight very serious and I feel sorry for someone taking him lightly.

What can you tell me about his preparation for MMA, such as who he’s training with and what he’s working on?  Is he tailoring his stand-up to the unique aspects of MMA, or is he mostly working on sprawling and being efficient at avoiding being taken down?

Ricardo has trained martial arts sense he was a child.  He is much more familiar to this sport than what people think. He is preparing for all aspects of the fight game. He will be ready for war. As far where he is training, he asked that we not disclose that info at this time.

Mayorga is making his highly anticipated debut on the upcoming Shine Fights 3 card in March of 2010.  First former WEC and Pride fighter Todd Moore expressed interest in the match, and now Din Thomas has really called Mayorga out by stating that he’ll send Mayorga back to Nicaragua to smoke cigarettes and sell bananas.  What was Mayorga’s reaction to Thomas’ comments, and who is in the driver’s seat as his first test?

LOL. Honestly Mayorga laughed it off, he is a professional and understands that this is to sell the fight. When the time is right he will respond. Mayorga doesn’t care who he fights as long as it is a top fighter

Mayorga has made it clear that he wants to fight a top name right away.  Is there any concern that, with his high level of confidence, that he may suffer a loss that may tarnish some of his spectacular drawing power?

Yes, this is something I fear, but lets be honest--Kimbo was KO’d in 14 seconds and he just drew 5 million people wanting to see him fight on spike, so I’m not sure if that will be a problem or not. One thing that I do know is whoever he fights, it will be a barn burner and a fight that you don’t want to miss!

Can you reveal any other exciting acquisitions that you’re working on that we can possibly expect in the future for Shine Fights?  Have you approached or been approached by any other big names?

We are in talks with several big name fighters at this time but I don’t want to say names until its on paper and the ink is dry. All I can say is please stay tuned!

 

 

 

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