Payout Exclusive: Interview with Alliance MMA’s Robert Haydak and Suckerpunch Entertainment’s Bryan Hamper
January 25, 2017
MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Alliance MMA’s Robert Haydak and Suckerpunch Entertainment’s Bryan Hamper.
The two spoke about the acquisition of the fighter management company and how it helps both companies going forward.
Among the top-level fighters Suckerpunch represents includes Max Holloway, Joanna Jedrzejczykand Germaine da Randamie.
Haydak, president of the publicly traded MMA company stated that he knew of Suckerpunch from his previous relationship with them as the head of his own promotion. “I’ve known them for a number of years. We have a good working relationship. I’ve watched their company grow since Cage Fury (Haydak ran Cage Fury prior to establishing Alliance MMA). I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of their top athletes.” Bryan Hamper, head of Suckerpunch MMA, added, “We fell in love with the model [of Alliance MMA]. We really felt it was a fit the way going forward.”
Hamper noted that the internal production staff of Alliance MMA would help its stable of young up and coming fighters: “We can now film our fighters using high quality content and send our videos. It’s no longer cell phones. It’s a better finished product to market.”
Suckerpunch currently has 103 athletes. “We have less than 3% performing in Alliance MMA,” said Hamper. “The lionshare of the company is in the UFC, Bellator and Invicta.”
Hamper stated that the Alliance MMA acquisition is “not an exclusive deal.” He explained that any of its fighters are still free to fight on regional cards that are not associated with Alliance MMA. Hamper noted that the management company tries to be selective with its representation. “We have an internal system of where guys are at. For us it’s not about volume business. We want to bring in high-character guys.”
“Working with Alliance MMA gives us the bandwith to expand,” said Hamper. According to Hamper, the acquisition will free up Suckerpunch to go after more prospects while Alliance MMA will assist with the corporate work. “We will really focus on sponsorship engagement.” Hamper noted that Suckerpunch recently secured several sponsor and appearance deals for UFC interim Featherweight Champ Max Holloway outside of the octagon. He notes that sponsorship deals are still out despite restrictions made by the UFC.
“We think we have 15 guys on the cusp of being in the UFC,” Hamper said of the current state of his prospects. He indicated that he would like to bring on 10-15 clients a year. “We have the ability to market them like our top-rated fighters.”
“Suckerpunch under Alliance MMA will continue to operate under their own brand,” said Haydak. “Their brand identity is not going anywhere.” Similar to its other acquisitions, Alliance MMA has purchased the company but the acquired business will operate under its own name. He indicated that the company will likely add more assets to the publicly traded company. “Obviously, taking a look at our business plan, we are continuing our strategy in 2017. There will be several acquisitions made this year.”
Under the new owners, Suckerpunch will continue with managing its fighters. Hamper added, “[R]ight now, we’re looking at our growth perspective going forward. We are excited about the growth and making sure our top prospect guys are getting looks in 2017.”
The two addressed the potential issue of the acquisition of the management company conflicting with also being a promoter of MMA events. This may be an issue if legislation to the expansion of the Ali Act to MMA is passed.
Hamper reiterated that, “Less than 3% of our athletes are competing for Alliance MMA [promotions]. It’s a very small piece.”
“Definitely it’s something we considered when looking at this acquisition,” Haydak stated. “We are monitoring the Ali Act. Less than 3% of Suckerpunch fighters fight within Alliance. If the Ali Act (is expanded), it would not happen to have impact on our operations. A lot of promotions are managing athletes. We are completely transparent. We are putting the athletes first.”
Hamper added, “From my perspective, transparency is a key element. Opponents and matchup approvals come from athletic commissions. We’re governed by athletic commissions. I think we’re taking broad steps.”
An expansion of the Ali Act would create a firewall between managers and promoters.