Is there a need for managers in MMA?

by John Morgan | source:

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua recently split from his long-time manager, saying in part "the UFC has made it clear that we don’t need a manager; all negotiations are conducted by the athletes themselves."

Alex Davis, who is rapidly becoming the conscience of the sport, details how managers still have a role to play.

"As I watch the severing of ties between some prominent athletes and their longtime managers – and feel the scrutiny that management comes under because of the media attention that these breakups are getting – many things become apparent," Davis told "First off, fight management is something that is very poorly understood by most. The reasons that brought these recent breakups have nothing to do with the scope of fight management in general. They are specific reasons, particular to the parties involved.

"Although you might have cases where an individual fighter can manage his or her own career successfully, those will be few and far between. For the most part, both the fighter and the promotion need help in this area."

"Let's go back to the point when a fighter starts his career and begins progressing up through the ranks. At that point, it will be very difficult for a guy to accomplish all of his goals without the guidance, contacts and experience of someone who has been in the game for a while and understands the ins and outs of our specific world.

"Many promising careers have been ended prematurely because of non- or improper management. We have also seen this happen recently, when successful people in other walks of life have attempted to enter the game at a high level, and without understanding what they are doing, hurt otherwise successful careers."

"Some people will say that once a fighter reaches a level where he enters the UFC, he doesn't need management anymore, but usually a manager has worked very hard to get him to that point without ever getting properly rewarded for his efforts. Only once a fighter is at the top can a manager have a chance at making something in the deal, which is only fair. Not only that, but its not like, 'Hey, great, now I am in the UFC. My problems are over!' Far from that. Things get way more complicated.

"More paperwork is needed. Deadlines must be met, and the young fighter at the same time must invest more of his time into his own training in order to perform, and if the time that he has outside the mat, ring or gym, has not been spent resting but handling the many other issues that are part of a professional fighter's career, his performance will suffer, and so will his career."

"The UFC does not pick a fighter's manager and does not meddle in that relationship. The UFC will deal with whoever the fighter wishes, and if the fighter wishes to do it himself, the UFC will not have a problem with that. But I know for a fact that it would be a far more difficult process to go it alone for the simple reason that fighters fight. They train for fights, they understand fighting, and that's their walk in life. That is where and when the they are the most intelligent at what they do – experts in the field, so to speak – but in the vast majority of cases, take them out of that world, and they are completely lost.

"Additionally, I think people sometimes don't understand the multitude of things that go on behind the scenes. Contracts to sign – not to mention abide by when it comes to sponsors – schedules to arrange and follow, medicals to be completed, travel to consider, diets to maintain and on and on an on. All of these things fall under the manager's responsibility, and if they weren't on the case, the UFC and every other promotion would find themselves with a whole new set of headaches."

"Speaking only for myself, I know I get irritated at feeling my job and hard work will come under some kind of scrutiny caused by ricochet from other people's problems. I know how hard I work at this, how much the responsibility of someone's life and career weighs on my shoulders, and how much I have been involved in different athletes' success.

"I have been doing this for more than a decade. I have been a part of many men's lives and careers. I have always tried my hardest to do the best for them and have only sought to make what is honest and fair from them – in many cases even waiving moneys that I could have lawfully claimed because I could see what a particular fighter was going through in his life at that particular moment and decided to reinvest that percentage in him. But that's just me. There are other people out there like myself, but the majority are out there for other reasons. Ego? Money? I see cases where a manager simply sucks a fighter dry and others where he is nonexistent until the camera and success shows up!

"This is a complex subject, and the truth lies deeper then one or two big names. Specific problems are different in each case and cannot be generalized. MMA is a very complex sport and becomes even more so as it grows, and the simple truth is that a successful  fighter will need more and more specific help in different areas – management being only one – if he is to become and stay successful."

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tags: Alex Davis   


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Recent Comments »

Willy Navarro site profile image  

2/14/12 11:19 PM by Willy Navarro

Thank you. I can literally write a book on the actual work that managers put into their fighters from the Ammy level to the UFC and I have only been in this game for 1 year. Imagine the collective stories and experiences that can be gathered? You speak the truth AJDavis.

Wasa-B site profile image  

2/14/12 7:56 PM by Wasa-B

To answer the question:Absolutely. Lets see all these non-established fighters without the experience try and run everything on their own.

Thacommish site profile image  

2/14/12 7:39 PM by Thacommish

At the ufc level the ufc handles alot of the responsibilities that previously went upon the manager. the question here seems to be do fighters owe their managers loyalty and should they pay them more when they do less work.

AJDavis site profile image  

2/14/12 12:11 PM by AJDavis

Dear Willy,Great post! At least one person who has been there and done that to confirm what I try to tell the world!

Willy Navarro site profile image  

2/14/12 11:45 AM by Willy Navarro

 I felt as if I was reading a page off my journal with this piece. Especially when mentioned about waiving money that is legally owed to you, but letting the fighter keep it instead or not even worrying about it. In my short time as a manager I have learned many many things in the fighter management business. Some great, some horrible. At the end of it all, I decided to manage fighters because I enjoy the sport and feel good helping others suceed. I will continue to do so because the pros outway the cons. Its deffinetely not because of the money, and many managers will tell you, "What Money", and thats exactly right. Unless you have a stable full of World Champions and a hell of a marketable fighter there isnt anything much to brag about. So I will continue to work on my "Stable" full of world champions, but in the mean time I will continue to enjoy the experiences that come along the way, helping that ammy get his pro debut, first wins, traveling, brotherhood, first KO, first submission, first big contract, first sponsor check, etc.    

Authority Figure site profile image  

2/14/12 10:44 AM by Authority Figure

I dunno. I think I could trust some casino owners to have my best interest in mind.

AJDavis site profile image  

2/14/12 10:05 AM by AJDavis

Very well put!

zedlepln site profile image  

2/14/12 9:59 AM by zedlepln

I think it's more than just a given matchup, too. Fighters fight, as a rule, and sometimes that means taking fights when they shouldn't or under conditions they shouldn't, or at least they should consider those extenuating circumstances before accepting the offer. A fighter will fight, even if he is not yet fully recovered from an injury. A fighter will fight, even when his personal affairs require more attention than he can devote while training. A fighter will fight, even if he isn't given adequate preparation time for an unusual opponent. A fighter will fight, even if he isn't given his due slot in the lineup (e.g., undercard). Having a rational voice can make for better decisions. Every fight intersects two critical aspects of a fighters future: his health and his career. 

AJDavis site profile image  

2/14/12 9:33 AM by AJDavis

Well, Dana is a promoter, he needs to put on the fights that the fans will pay to see. Not always the fighter will agree to that fight, maybe the guy is a friend, maybe the fighter doesnt like that fight. So you will end up with those situations.

GMUNIT site profile image  

2/14/12 9:29 AM by GMUNIT

I don't know how anyone would want to do what a manager does on their own. Most of the guys dropping their management are being duped IMO, all they are seeing is the money they are "saving" but their careers will suffer because of ithe commented on the first thread that was made about thisi think it was even on the first page