MMA is the world's fastest growing sport, but sometimes it grows in strange ways. Take Arizona or example.
Arizona MMA is dominated by Roland Sarria's Rage in the Cage, which has promoted a staggering 1,700 matches. However, Sarria has tried grappling tournaments, kickboxing, fight gyms, sportswear, and thus far this year has booked on a single event that includes pro bouts.
Sarria talks about previous promotional attempts in Arizona.
“They have all failed, including some major shows that came here. Arizona is a funny state. I can’t figure it out yet. It’s mind-boggling. I don’t know if there is too much to do here or we need a bigger fan base,” Sarria told Sherdog.com. “Yes, I do think there is room for other shows, but they have to be a really small production:  to 800 people. It doesn’t matter how many people go to your show. At the end of the day, it matters how many people paid.”
“Be prepared to lose a lot of money because people in Arizona don’t have a lot of spending money. I find it to be more difficult, now more than ever, over the last two years,” Sarria said. “MMA is not as big as everyone thinks it is; it’s big for the UFC, but look how much money they spent over the years to turn the tide. I would say that 99 percent of MMA promoters are losing their butts.”
Against that dreary backdrop enters Asher Lutz, who cut his teeth in the world's busiest MMA scene - Ohio. Lutz, whose Coalition of Combat debuted in February, sees the need for sweeping changes to current Arizona MMA promotions.
“When I got to attend some of the live events out here, I realized just how shoddy some of these promotions are and how so many people down here complain about them. Also, the lack of illustrious history in promoting that Arizona has is just terrible,” Lutz said. “I can draw five random shows out of a hat of 20 in Ohio, and most of them will be good. Down here, it is the exact opposite, so much so that you’re really gambling in spending any kind of money seeing an MMA show down here. I saw a window of opportunity down here. I saw a depressed market for a quality MMA show, and I decided I wanted to be that person.”“Sponsors [and] people down here have been tainted so [badly] by two promotions -- that I will not name -- that have really jaded people’s sense of MMA promotions. Local businesses are very, very reluctant to invest any money into MMA shows,” Lutz said. “They have been promised the world and not delivered a 10th of that. I’ve heard stories of MMA promotions here in Arizona taking sponsorship money and not doing anything with it, not putting it into anything. That’s just sad. When I see people trying to bleed the sport dry for money, it’s sad; it really is.”
Coalition of Combat plans to hold the second sometime this Summer.
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