Move and Kountermove

Self described as 'the world's leading fantasy MMA community,' Kountermove is the premier location for MMA addicts who want to satisfy their fantasy cravings year round. One of the things we love most about professional mixed martial arts is its never-ending nature. There is always some big event just around the corner and brand new intriguing matchups to look forward to nearly every weekend. But as many of you have realized, or likely soon will, simply watching the fights soon fails to be enough. Eventually, you discover that you need to be involved somehow; in part, to prove your knowledge of the sport itself, but also as a way to simply feel like you're an active member of this growing community of fight fans.

Enter Kountermove. Kountermove is intuitive, easy to use, and fun. The general idea is as follows. You are given a Salary of $25,000 per game. With that $25,000 you must fill five empty slots with fighters from a particular event. Each fighter cost a certain amount of money, with favorites costing more than underdogs. The average cost for each slot comes out to $5,000. In other words, if you want to pick Sergio Pettis for your squad ($5,300) then you will have to pick someone cheaper, like Gabriel Gonzaga ($4700), as well. Once you are confident in your team, you send them into battle. You get points based on how your fighters do in their fights. If Sergio Pettis gets a first round knockout, then you earn big points. If Gabriel Gonzaga lands a few big takedowns and wins by decision, then you earn big points. Basically, if your guys do well, so do you. For a full break down of the scoring system, click here.

You can join one of the many public games or create your own public or private game. Entry Fees range from Free to $250.00 although $5.00, $10.00, and $25.00 buy-ins are most common. Depending on the price of entry and the number of players, the prize pool can be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to $15,000 and more, with trickle-down payouts or winner-takes-all. Worst case scenario, you pay a little money to enhance your viewing experience. Best case scenario, you enhance your viewing experience and pocket some winnings in the process. Seems like a no-brainer.

Here at Water Cooler MMA, we became immediately hooked on the site and needed to know more about the people behind it. We reached out to Kountermove co-founder, Aaron Ard, to ask him about about his particular background in martial arts, the future of fantasy MMA, and why Kountermove has a distinct advantage over its competitors or lack-there-of. Check out our complete interview below and join us on Kountermove by clicking through the embedded twitter link below!

It would appear that MMA is in large part underrepresented in the field of Fantasy Sports. Do you feel that this is a wide open market?

Yes, we'd agree with that. Most major sports have a large fantasy community. We are at the intersection of two massive consumer trends -- mixed martial arts and fantasy sports. Like fantasy football, fantasy MMA is becoming a core part of the entertainment experience.

MMA is the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. Fantasy sports have exploded in popularity in the past 5+ years, with an estimated 35 million players and $3-4 billion in annual economic impact. We expect the market for fantasy MMA to be similar to that of fantasy football and baseball one day.

The sport is growing quickly and there is sure to be an influx of competitors in the near future. How do you plan on rising above or separating yourself from the bigger companies entering your space, i.e. ESPN, Yahoo, etc.

Fantasy MMA is fun and as the sport and fantasy continue to grow, we expect more competitors. We think our site speaks for itself - with our passion and dedication to our customers and the game we feel can compete with anybody.

Why MMA? Are you an MMA fan or an opportunist who saw the chance to tap into a rising stock? Or perhaps both?

I'm currently a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Saulo Ribeiro. I have been heavily involved in the Northern California Mixed Martial Arts community for over a decade. In 1998, I became one of the first students at Ralph Gracie's academy, the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in Northern California. This academy has produced many of today's top MMA athletes, such as BJ Penn, Luke Stewart, Nick and Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, and others.

The whole reason we started this is because I have a lot of friends that are really good fighters but who no one has heard of them. When I play fantasy football, I realized that I knew who the third sting running back was on the St. Louis Rams. We thought Fantasy MMA could drive interest further down the card and get some much needed attention on some great, but lesser known fighters, while at the same time making the whole MMA experience more exciting.

Give us a background on the company/how it got started. Who was initially involved, how many people, what was the facility like? Where does everything stand now?

My partner, Brian Knapp is a BJJ black belt under Ralph Gracie and took third last year at the BJJ worlds. He is an accomplished technology attorney who has had exits in three out of three start-ups he's been an early team member of, before any product launch in all three cases (B& - public, Goldman Sachs; - acquired, NBCi; Loopt - acquired, Green Dot).

Brian and I have trained together for over a decade and we always wanted to do something in MMA - Fantasy MMA seemed like a logical choice. When we first set out to start a fantasy MMA game, we noticed that fantasy MMA was mostly pick'em style games or other simulated gambling formats, which lacks a real game play strategy. If you just pick whoo's going to win or lose, that's not exciting enough and is not any more exciting than a straight wager. We wanted a more nuanced and sophisticated game, but simple enough that anyone can play it, and I think that's what we have done with our site.

We have come a long way from where we started. Since our launch, we have had 12 people working for us and plan to expand soon.

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