Some of the most powerful managers in MMA are planning to meet next week in Las Vegas.
Organized by Mike Roberts and Jeff Meyer of MMA Inc., who represent Urijah Faber, Anthony Pettis, Chael Sonnen, Paige VanZant and many more, the meeting is set to take place prior to UFC 187.
"We are pretty excited about it because this has never been done before," Meyer said. "While the managers usually see each other independently at the fights, we’ve never sat down as a group to discuss common issues that affect us all. This is long overdue.
"This came about through a couple of unrelated phone calls between a few managers. It was suggested that we should all get together some time. Since quite a few managers will be in Las Vegas over Memorial Day, we decided to put something together. An invitation was sent out to about a dozen managers. The response was very positive and a few managers that were not on the original invitation have asked to attend as well. And they are welcome to do so."
The timing of this meeting is certainly interesting considering last week's Reebok compensation announcement. That announcement has led to intense debate within the MMA community -- on and off the record -- about the business of the sport. And while Meyer expects the Reebok deal to be discussed, he said that's not the only reason this is taking place. In fact, he reiterated several times that MMA Inc. has a very strong relationship with Reebok, especially considering the fact that both Pettis and VanZant have Reebok sponsorship deals.
"Reebok is only one component of a multitude of issues managers should be talking about," he said.
"There has been some speculation in the media as to the agenda of the meeting. The only agenda item is for management to get together and share insights over a variety of topics, with the hope that we can make our industry better for the benefit of our respective clients and our respective agencies. That’s it."
Out of respect for his peers, Meyer wouldn't disclose which managers would take part in the meeting. He said he expected at least ten to attend but was hoping for more.
Junior dos Santos' manager Ana Claudia Guedes confirmed that she will be attending.
"Each MMA manager brings different experience and expertise to their job," she said. "For some, it's decades in the fight game. thers have a wealth of experience in fields that intersect with professional MMA, which in my case is IP law, trademarks, image rights and licensing. There isn't one person who knows it all in any field. So our goal and hope is to come together and share knowledge and insights in a way that can help each of us successfully adapt to the growing and changing shape of the sport. I feel the athletes will reap a lot of benefits from our ability as managers and advisors to work together."
Two others who are planning on attending: Robert Roveta of Denaro Sports, who manages Matt Brown, Dustin Poirier and Shawn Jordan, as well as Brian Butler-Au of SuckerPunch Entertainment, who represents Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Carla Esparza, Felice Herrig and more. Others contacted by MMAFighting.com politely declined to confirm their involvement.
"Jeff and I had been talking about this for a while now," Butler-Au said, "and it's simply a meeting to get the top management companies in the sport to come together and set industry standards. Try and get on the same page and evolve this industry along with the sport.
Meyer added, "We're not trying to hide the fact that we're meeting next week, and we're not trying to pick on any specific promotion. It's just long overdue that management sits down and has a collective conversation about the state of the business. It's amazing that we haven't done this yet."