MMA Payout Exclusive: Interview with Robert Haydak, President of Alliance MMA

November 2, 2016

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with the President of Alliance MMA, Robert Haydak.  He talked about his company’s recent IPO, its business model and its future plans.

For those that do not know, the company went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange last month.  You can find investor information on the company here and our previous post on the company here.

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The company is not affiliated with Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California although Haydak indicated that it is working with the gym’s Eric del Fierro to launch an MMA promotion in Southern California.

Alliance MMA intends to be “the NCAA to the NFL” according to Haydak.  Alliance MMA is currently comprised of 6 regional MMA promotions (referred to as “Target Companies” in its S-1) with the intent to become a feeder league for bigger promotions such as the UFC, Bellator MMA, OneFC and other promotions.  The promotions include Cage Fury Fighting Championships, Combat Games MMA, Hoosier Fight Club, Shogun Fights, Cagetix and V3 Fights.  It also has acquired Go Fight Live. The company acquired the promotions and the media libraries of “two prominent mixed martial arts” organizations.  According to its prospectus, the promotions have collectively “generated $2.4 million in gross revenue and $0.127 million in net income.”

1. Why did Alliance MMA decide to become publicly traded?

“One of our founding members, Joe Gamberale talked about this idea.  We had met 2 and a half years ago when we were looking at acquiring one of the competitors in the market.   Joe and I sat down and talked about building a footprint.  It was Joe’s vision that led to this.”

2.  Why go public instead of raising capital privately?

“We started the process over 2 years ago.  We initially considered a reverse triangular merger with other regional MMA promotions.  But more and more we reached out to regional promotions we found that we should go public.  We determined we could be qualified for the NASDAQ and do an IPO.”

3.  What background research did Alliance MMA do to make the decision to go public?

“It was several things.  We recognized that this was a similar industry to the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).  Vince McMahon acquired smaller shows in the country.  We saw a demand from regional promotions around the country.  And we believed that we could assist them in a variety of ways: marketing, medicals, business practices.  We started talking to and vetting different promotions.  We saw a clear opportunity to build Alliance MMA and make it into a feeder program (for bigger MMA organizations).”

4.  What is the allure of investing in Alliance MMA?

“MMA is the fastest-growing sport in the world.  If you take a look at Alliance MMA, it is the first major traded (MMA company) on the stock market.  You can look at our business model, look at our S-1 and look at what our plans are and we are creating a company that intends to be the NCAA to the NFL.”

5.  Can you explain how Alliance MMA will distribute its events?

“At this point, we (some of the MMA organizations of Alliance) have a traditional iPPV (internet pay-per-view) model.  We’ve already made a capital investment which includes an in-house production staff.  We have an executive producer.  We want to make sure that we want high quality.  The events are network ready shows that are run like a top-tier promotion. ”

According to Haydak, promotions in Alliance MMA do not have a subscription-based model at this time.

6.  What is the leadership of Alliance MMA?

“I’m on full-time.  I no longer have a vested interest in any other MMA promotion (Haydak was previously the CEO of Cage Fury Fighting Championships in New Jersey).  This is my sole focus.  Currently Alliance MMA has a board of directors 6.  This includes Renzo Gracie and Burt Watson.”

The corporate team includes CEO Paul Daner and Jon Price as CFO.  Price was formerly the CFO of MusclePharm.  The full list of Alliance MMA’s Board of Director’s can be found on its Investor Relations page.

7.  Is there concern about integrating the Target Companies? How will the acquisitions work and the structure of the companies?

“When we identified all of the promotions that are being acquired (all companies will be 100% acquired) we recognized that the people running them were the driving force.  Therefore, we have given them a minimum 3-year employment agreement.  We value their experience and their knowledge in the market so we are keeping the people in place.  It is a critical part of the business model.  We have a corporate team in place and will be providing them the resources to scale the business.”

8.  How popular is the regional MMA scene?

“We consider it the NCAA to the NFL.  College Football is more exciting than the NFL.  On the regional level (in MMA), lots of fighters have a desire to make it to the next level.  Every promotion has a long track record of success.”

9.  With the recent downsizing at the UFC, do you think the plan of becoming a feeder league is still feasible?

“We don’t look at it that way at all. There are other promotions out there.  We want to be complimentary with these guys (i.e., major promotions).  We are acutely aware of our position.  We believe that the appetite for MMA is still growing. “

10.  How will you handle fighters that will leave for major promotions?

“Currently, several of the promotions (i.e., Target Companies) have several fighters under contract.  We (Cage Fury) had 50 plus fighters under contract.  All contracts have out clauses.  We release them (if they are called up to a major promotion).  It doesn’t matter if it’s the day before their scheduled fight.”

11.  Is there interest from sponsors? Have you approached companies regarding sponsorships?

“Absolutely.  In 2017, when we’re up and running, we’ll be putting on 125 events in various major markets throughout the US and overseas.  Sponsors are looking for visibility and brand recognition whether it comes from people in attendance, media or network deals in place.  There are different levels of sponsors including national and regional and a combination thereof.”

12. Have you been in contact with any networks regarding distribution?

“Alliance MMA is actively engaged in conversations with a number of different networks. Currently, we have agreements in place with CBS Sports, Comcast Network in Chicago and the Mid-Atlantic region. We are very confident with the amount of high quality events that we will be producing in 2017, that several networks will see value in a partnership with Alliance MMA.”

MMA Payout presents The Interview Episode 2 with MMA Journalist Jim Genia

June 9, 2015

MMA Payout presents The Interview, Episode 2, with veteran MMA Journalist Jim Genia discussing the status of the fight to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York.

Please note that this interview was done on Monday afternoon right before the news of a revamped MMA Bill was made public.  With the New York State Assembly ending June 17th, we are going down to the wire for a vote to legalize MMA in the state.

You can follow Jim on Twitter and read his latest on his web site.

The Interview with Professor Nicholas Watanabe

April 7, 2015

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with University of Missouri professor Nicholas Watanabe. His most recent study focuses on research related to the PPV habits of UFC fans as opposed to those that attend live events. The results are interesting.

Notably, his findings suggest that Heavyweights draw more on PPV than other weight classes.  However, those that attend UFC live events are not as picky when it comes to which weight classes are on a particular card. In the interview, we cover his study which is featured in the latest edition of the International Journal of Sport Finance (cite: 2015, Vol 10, No. 1, 26-41). The study is entitled, “Sources of Direct Demand: An Examination of Demand for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”

We also talk a little Mayweather-Pacquiao as well toward the end of our talk.

Nicholas Watanabe

Nicholas Watanabe