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OTHER ITA SITES:
A Vision For A Professional Fighting League: Local Fighters, Team Owners, And Fans
There is, and always has been, a problem in the world of professional fighting: Unlike almost any other sport, a single entity controls the players. In boxing, a single notorious promoter almost ruined the sport (and arguably did) with the way he managed and controlled fighters and matches. Now, in the booming sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), the leading brands control the match ups and, in the case of the International Fight League, own the teams.
In contrast, the top sports franchises of our day – the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL – all succeeded based on local teams, local owners, and local fans working together to create something larger and greater than a single owner ever could. Team owners gave up a little bit in order to create something truly special. It is time for a similar vision to come to fruition in the fighting world.
Bonecrunch Fighting is a new league-based fighting organization based on exactly this concept. In this league, local owners build teams with as many local fighters as possible, in order to gain the support of local fans. The league is structured like a franchise, and seeks entrepreneurs with financial staying power to own and build successful teams.
Results so far include:
- An inaugural event that sold out a 3600 seat arena in Sarasota Florida.
- Creation of the required legal documents to sell a franchise to interested and qualified team owners.
- Assembly of a top leadership team with management and fighting industry expertise.
- Development of template marketing materials, project management tools, and contracts to successfully run events.
- Agreements with five top MMA trainers and school owners (with four more in the works) who have put fighters into leading organizations. These trainers have a cadre of excellent local fighters ready to take on other teams – and ready to serve as “turn key” teams when a team owner purchase their geography.
- Interest from a number of entrepreneurs to purchase the rights to a team.
The advantages of this model become clearest when a network of at least five or six teams is operating. At that point, the league can begin to attract regional and national sponsors, and television/pay per view interest – the type of recognition that no local promoter can generate independently. The brand equity of the league will grow as fans support their local teams towards the play-offs and inter-league title/all-star events. In addition to putting on league events in their geographies, team owners are free to experiment with different concepts, including amateur and professional fights, tournaments, and different types of fighting formats (i.e., grappling, wrestling, stand up combat, boxing, and other formats that become popular).
Because the league is looking to achieve critical mass, initial franchises are priced at only $20,000 (compared to most other franchises, sports or otherwise, and the discount is significant). This advantageous pricing gives early adopters the chance to realize a significant capital gain, because later owners will pay a premium. At the same time, Bonecrunch carefully screens potential owners to make sure that they have the long-term vision and required capital for their team, and the league, to succeed.
Contrast this concept with its nearest rival, the International Fight League (IFL). The IFL has raised over $15 million dollars to create league-owned teams and attract television deals. Its stock price has had a roller coaster ride and currently trades at under $1 after reaching highs of $17 and the league struggles to contain costs and achieve profitability. Meanwhile, Bonecrunch is a grassroots effort that requires much less capital from a group of committed team owners, trainers, and fighters in order to succeed. By using the franchise model, Bonecrunch can grow organically and achieve critical mass with a comparably tiny investment.
Time will tell if this model can succeed in the highly competitive, fickle, and regulated world of fighting. However, it is time to bring this model to what has been a centrally controlled sport and find out what kind of difference it can make – to fans, fighters, and the entrepreneurs who purchase a franchise and own a professional sports team.
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