Q&A WITH BRETT ROBERTS, CEO OF BAMMA USA
BAMMA USA held its inaugural Badbeat ﬁght in Southern California in Sept. 2010. Since then, the organization has added the Amateur League Fighting Alliance (ALFA) promotion to its business model, and the all-professional BAMMA Badbeat 7 event was held in Commerce, Calif. in October. We spoke with BAMMA USA CEO Brett Roberts to learn more about this growing organization. MMA Business: MMA ﬁghters and fans in Southern California have many options today. What is different about BAMMA? Brett Roberts: We try to be the most active organization in Southern California, with four to six pro ﬁghts per year and a variety of amateur ﬁghts in between. We want to be recognized as one of the most important up-and-coming ﬁght organizations in the nation. We are proud to put on a high-quality show with evenly matched ﬁghts, and in an atmosphere people want to experience. We try to be bigger than the other events in Southern California. We’re chasing Bellator, publicity-wise. We’re dedicated to MMA, and many other shows in the area do hybrid events, with boxing or Muay Thai. I’m a businessman, not just a guy coming off the mat. I saw Mixed Martial Arts going the wrong way, business-wise. One of our ﬁrst goals was to change that. We are kid friendly, and we have class in our production. We’re going after the businessman and businesswoman as fans. It’s not about go-go girls; we keep our Ring Girls classy. MMA: Who is your audience? Rogers: We recently analyzed our fan demographic. After 13 shows we decided to spend some money on research, and our fans are higher-income people. BAMMA is reaching more than 20 million people a year. I was surprised to learn that, and I made our research partner explain this number to me several times because I didn’t believe it at ﬁrst. So now we’re going back to our sponsors. Look, we’re not the cheapest show in town for fans. But we keep marketing to the businessman and woman. I continue to say I’m marketing to the men and women who pick up their clothes at the
dry cleaner. And this works great for our sponsors, too. GoPro gambled on us back in March 2011, saying, “we’ll try it out for a year.” We’re a testosterone-driven organization, and that attitude crosses over to the sports more recognized with the GoPro brand – surﬁng, skateboarding, etc. We started using their products in our production, even putting a camera on a referee. When it came time to renew the sponsorship, GoPro was excited to continue. It works for them; they’re tracking click-throughs directly to purchases. We are the only MMA organization they sponsor. MMA: BAMMA uses, for one, a local car show for marketing purposes. Why did you choose that audience for marketing? Rogers: We’ve been working with the MotorTrend magazine auto shows for years as a sponsor of the Orange County (Calif.) International Auto Show. It’s an identical demographic to that of MMA. It’s a testosterone-driven audience. As a business man and a marketing guy, when I had the opportunity to team up with MotorTrend, I said “Why Not?” This car show is a great marketing tool right in our neighborhood. Why not put my brand in front of this audience right in my back yard? Every year, we get more and more recognition of our brand from this show. MMA: How do you manage the relationship with ﬁghters?
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Rogers: I’m a businessman. and they need to market this. We have 2013 almost all planned out. C O M
. I talk to them directly. But we want them to stick with us. We’re going to expand to a bigger facility soon. graduating him to our pro Badbeat ﬁghts. probably top 5 in the world. We grab the ﬁghters in the amateur world. They need to understand the business perspective of their value. I’m in on negotiations. We hit our original ﬁve-year trajectory in just 25 months. giving them op40 I
portunities to showcase their skills. The amateur ﬁghters are the next pros. for example. We are growing rapidly. We have a lot on the table. I go see them at the gyms. I sympathize with them. I help them understand they are a commodity. I know what they’re going through. M M A B U S I N E S S . Christopher Schommer. And I am personal friends with a lot of them. fought for us as an amateur. and then to UFC or Bellator. and we put some marketing behind them and the events. ALFA helps give amateur ﬁghters a solid future. too. MMA: What’s special or unique about BAMMA that will help make that goal a reality? Rogers: When you come to a BAMMA ﬁght. ALFA ﬁghts lead to Badbeat ﬁghts. But I’m also straightforward with them. We’re growing organically. MMA: What is ALFA? Rogers: The Amateur League Fighting Alliance (ALFA) is our breeding ground for professionals. MMA: What’s the three-year plan for BAMMA USA? Rogers: We deﬁnitely want to be a national-level promotion. and my handshake is as strong as my signature. And they can ﬁght other places. so ALFA is much like a minor league system in baseball or hockey. and now we’re moving him up. In three years. controlling the growth. and will be on TV real soon. we started it in 2011. I’m a hands-on guy. We’re discussing TV deals.
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. MMA World Expo Founder and Director. The MMA World Expo will also include product exhibits. We’re going to maintain the focus on these traditions. Judges will rank the top contenders who will be further evaluated to see who continues on the road to the pro contract. We maintain respect for all the arts and the discipline that makes them unique. You’re never going to see me cussing out someone. safety for the athletes.” said Anne Pellaud.) The Expo will feature other amateur tournaments. in both the ﬁghts and in the business. autograph signings and training sessions conducted by many of the region’s best coaches including Jimmy Pedro. “The opportunity to work with an internationally renowned sports organization like FILA provides our MMA tournament with a highly organized. proven structure that ensures fair competition. Head of the Sport and Communication Department of FILA. the international governing body for Olympic wrestling. Held in association with FILA. That trend continued at last year’s show.are true to the history and traditions of Mixed Martial Arts. The MMA World Expo is also partnering with the World Series of Fighting by offering walk-on try-outs for the chance to earn a professional ﬁght contract with the newly formed WSoF ﬁght organization. current USA Judo Olympic Team Coach. this invitational event will feature ﬁghters in several weight classes with competitors vying for international ranking within the FILA federation. Paone worked to create this tournament for last year’s expo. Competitors battle in three individual rounds of Muay Thai. and conditioning exercises. Dec. grappling. MMA is exactly what it says it is – a mix of traditional arts. Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre. when promoter Paul Paone introduced the STS Challenge ﬁghts. is proud to take part in the fourth edition of the World MMA Expo and hold the ﬁrst FILA-sanctioned amateur MMA tournament ever organized in North America on that occasion. see Wide World of MMA on page 42. “FILA. Participants will be asked to perform various stand-up and grappling maneuvers.” said Paul Paone. professional MMA ﬁghters.
W W W. Muay Thai trainer to UFC Champions Frankie Edgar. As with last year’s tournament. and amateur mixed martial arts. We’re proud to showcase the respect for these arts.
MMA WORLD EXPO FIGHTS ON
From the inaugural MMA World Expo in 2009 to the second event a year later. take-downs and no-gi Jiu-Jitsu. (For more on this new amateur tournament. excitement for fans and above-all. it was clear to see the marked change from a lifestyle-oriented consumer show to an active and participatory ﬁght-focused event. and Marcelo Garcia. M M A B U S I N E S S . Kru Phil Nurse. because the style combines all elements of MMA in individuals
rounds to ﬁt within state laws. it goes to the next round with New York City’s ﬁrst-ever Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Tournament as the featured event of the fourth annual MMA World Expo. The STS Challenge – which encompasses striking (S). 1 and 2 at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. BJJ legend. International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles. light sparring. pankration. including the Renzo Gracie Open BJJ.
But this year’s show will be about ﬁghts. take-downs (T) and submissions (S) – returns for its second annual tournament. Gracie has decided to open competition to all athletes regardless of their school afﬁliation. For 2012. for ﬁghting and for all ﬁghters.