Strange days for MMA promotion in Arizona


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 “Yes, I do think there is room for other shows, but they have to be a really small production: [500] 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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Recent Comments »

David Mortensen site profile image  

3/31/12 7:31 PM by David Mortensen

 roland asked me to fight in one of their shows back in 2009, i declined because i had a fight scheduled in LV.  would have said no either way. he probably wanted to match me up with someone who would have steamrolled me... hes a horrible instructor as well.  he has legit skills on the ground but he couldnt teach them to save his life.

smoogy site profile image  

3/31/12 6:30 PM by smoogy

Normally the RITC threads get no replies so its cool to actually hear what the real story is on the ground in AZ. Its no secret that RITC doesnt aspire to uplift the AZ MMA scene. They seemingly exist to give the few big club fighters in the area a steady stream of unprepared challengers to knock over.

David Mortensen site profile image  

3/31/12 5:42 PM by David Mortensen

 not surprised.  roland used to try and give us either free tickets or tickets on the cheap. never bought one or wanted to go to one of his shows.

Muay Tired site profile image  

3/31/12 5:13 PM by Muay Tired

As further proof, two weeks ago on the RITC show broadcast on AZ-7, one of the fighters had no fight experience and "trained in a park." Of course, he got demolished!

David Mortensen site profile image  

3/30/12 8:20 PM by David Mortensen

I trained at az combat for a while as well as one of the RITC centers. Roland was a sleeze and was always throwing guys in there that had no business in a cage. Hence why I would go to Vegas to fight even tho I trained locally.

Jack_Bauer site profile image  

3/30/12 8:13 PM by Jack_Bauer

I live in Arizona and have been to a few RITC events. I've also had a few friends who train at AZ Combat fight in these shows and they are definitely "shoddy" to say the least. There is little to no advertising for these events and most of them leave a lot to be desired anyway. Completely agree about the deep talent pool in AZ, which makes the production of these shows even more appalling. I love MMA and I won't even go to a RITC event unless my friends are fighting on the card. Sucks to say that.

AttentionDeficitDizzle site profile image  

3/30/12 7:11 PM by AttentionDeficitDizzle

I have a DVD set of Rage in The Cage events, they had some good ones but many of them were garbage.  He was throwing guys in with no experience for like $150 paydays and it looked like Toughman.  Some of it was total shit.

Gator Choke site profile image  

3/30/12 6:26 PM by Gator Choke

Coalition of Combat is really a decent show. They had some first show issues but it truly has promise to be the promotion Arizona deserves to have.

The Donkeypuncher site profile image  

3/30/12 5:52 PM by The Donkeypuncher

Everything that everyone has posted is true. MMA in AZ is a disaster and the talent pool is great. RITC is a dumpster fire an only the most hardcore of AZ MMA fans know about it, and even then they don't go to those events.

David Mortensen site profile image  

3/30/12 5:25 PM by David Mortensen

 My guess is that people know about it, but know that its a shoddy production and not worth their time or money to attend.