One voice is rapidly developing as the conscience of the Mixed Martial Arts - that of Alex Davis. In an interview with MMAJunkie Davis detailed the challenges of success.
At UFC 142, the veteran manager watched as his clients Edson Barboza, Rousimar Palhares and Thiago Tavares all came out on top. Barboza won an extraordinary two "Fight Night" bonuses totalling $130,000. Davis believes Barboza's background has prepared him to deal with the success. But others have a greater challenge stil.
"As I manage these guys, get them fights and help them forward their careers, when I do manage to get a kid to where everyone dreams about getting to – due to his hard work and determination – into glory, his name in the headlines, his face on the sites and in the news, I realize that we have overcome a whole scope of problems to get here," Davis told MMAjunkie.com. "But we are also now confronted with a whole new set of problems and challenges.
"Truth is, everyone sees the rise to fame, and to be sure, it is a happy moment to see all that hard work rewarded, but there is still a long road of difficulties to overcome if these young men are to continue their careers successfully and still have something left over to live on later on."
"The moment they achieve the light, they start getting media and attention. A whole process starts happening around them, and it is difficult for even the most stable and level-headed person not to get caught up in that hype. Thousands of people now want to be seen with them, want interviews, want a piece of the action. His face is now all over the place, and people want to know even the color of his underwear! Business opportunities and new associates now present themselves with exciting proposals. Everyone has this great idea that isn’t being done, and the guy simply must get involved.
"I've seen it time after time, and I have seen these guys lose their asses because they usually have good hearts and open arms and are trusting, and the buzzards among us want nothing more then an opportunity like that. And a fighter, who has spent 99 percent of his time concentrating on his skills, simply has no way of telling who and what is for real and what is a trap."
"Another effect is psychological. A guy starts seeing his face and name all over the place, and he starts confusing himself with his own image. He forgets the reality, that the only thing between him and losing his next fight is his hard work, as it always was, and the fact that now his face and name is out there will never change that. to the contrary, he is now under more pressure to perform. People now expect more of him and will be unforgiving on an off-day. His errors will be magnified. Media can be cruel."
"I have seen this happen more than once – different names, different weights and circumstances but same process. It's simply human. We are attracted like flies to these heroes, but this needs to be faced with cool, with balance and level-headedness. As much as this moment has been pursued, it can become intoxicating to the point of killing the patient. It is at this point that many careers have been ruined, even before taking off
"Some of these boys learn to handle it, others go through their careers stumbling, getting dragged in a thousand unfruitful directions. A lot of them start on new business enterprises, with sometimes well-meaning people, or sometimes with people that are only there for self-benefit. Few of these ever work out. It's another aspect of the fighting game, one that although we see happen right in front of our eyes, few of us realize."
"Many of the names and heroes of today will fall from all this and face great difficulty, and not because they were underpaid. I'm telling you from my own experience, in some cases these guys will lose as much as they make, even if it is in the millions."
"I think it is probably similar in any other sport. These are athletes who are intuitive. They are driven by emotions. Their intelligence is action-oriented, and anything that takes more than five minutes of boring concentration will be given up."
"Who knows? Maybe by talking about this and bringing this out, it might help one of them. It would make it worth it. These boys deserve to succeed."