In the fi rst annual FIGHT! Power 20 we take a look at the top movers and shakers in the mixed martial arts world. Businessmen, promoters, fi nanciers, fi ghters and trainers all fi nd their way on to this years list. There are some name which are well-known to anyone familiar with MMA but we also reveal the identities of some power players who you probably have never heard of. You might also be surprised at who didn’t make the cut this year as fortunes in the MMA universe shift as rapidly as Houston Alexander’s fi ghts end in knockouts.
Of course, MMA’s version of Microsoft, The Ultimate Fighting Championship is heavily represented. Time will tell whether or not the bellwether organization can remain as dominant as such other leagues as STRIKEFORCE, ELITE XC and DREAM start to aggressively compete for the attention and the entertainment dollars of the growing legions of mixed martial arts fans around the world.
Dana White • 01
Was there ever any question as to who would head this list? Love him or hate him, when it comes to mixed martial arts, there is one man who is the alpha and omega of most conversations. That man is Dana White. He’s everywhere. Try and scan the front page of your favorite forum without his name being in one of the thread headings. Right or wrong, Dana White is the face of modern MMA. No matter your feelings toward the UFC President, one thing that we know for sure: MMA is better off today because of Dana White. Lorenzo Fertitta was quoted as saying, “I truly believe that Dana was put on earth to run the UFC.” White saw potential in the UFC when the organization was down and out. His vision was to kill the idea of MMA being the most bloody, brutal sport in the world. He changed the marketing strategy to glorify the sport as a whole, and promoted the fi ghters as amazing athletes as opposed to barbarians. The rest, as they say, is history.
Seven years later, White is still at the forefront, pushing the sport into the mainstream. While some may question his brash ways and his tact (or lack thereof), his passion for the sport has never been up for debate. The time he spends signing autographs and taking pictures goes above and beyond the call of duty. He gets it. He always has. As the president of the most powerful mixed martial arts organization there is, he tops our list of the twenty most powerful people in MMA.
Joe Silva • 02
One call from Joe Silva can change a fi ghter’s life forever. He can make his dreams come true or crush his soul in a matter of thirty seconds. One of the most long-standing employees of the UFC, Silva is the most important guy in MMA that you may have never heard of. This walking encyclopedia of MMA knowledge bears matchmaking responsibility as well as talent relations for the UFC. Joe does the majority of his work behind the scenes, but he is without question one of the most infl uential and respected men in the world of mixed martial arts today.
Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta • 03
With all due respect to the occupant of the top spot on our list, the UFC might not even exist today if it weren’t for Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. The billionaire brothers took a gamble in 2001 by purchasing the struggling organization for a mere $2 million dollars. Today, the organization is projected to generate over $250 million this year alone. While generally avoiding the day-to-day operations of the UFC, the Fertittas certainly offer their business savvy and their assets to the Zuffa powerhouse. Each brother is ranked 380th on the Forbes 400 billionaires list.
Marc Ratner • 04
The former Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission has served as Zuffa’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs since 2006. If MMA was recently approved in your state, you have Marc Ratner to thank. Signing Ratner was an amazing coup for Zuffa and the UFC. Ratner added a sense of credibility to the organization as it continues battling to get mixed martial arts regulated in every state. His focus on New York has made headlines across the country, as fi ght fans continue to clamor for a UFC event at Madison Square Garden. His decades of experience and knowledge in combat sports have earned Marc Ratner the utmost respect and admiration of anybody associated with mixed martial arts.
Gary Shaw • 05
Shaw entered the world of MMA from boxing. He currently presides as the President of Live Events for EliteXC. Having secured the fi rst live mixed martial arts event on network television (CBS), Shaw and company put their brand in front of more new eyeballs than any other promotion in history. Coming from a boxing background, Shaw is very familiar with “building up” an athlete in the sport, a technique he has used to perfection with Kimbo Slice.
Monte Cox • 06
Manager. Promoter. Entrepreneur. Monte Cox does it all. Jens Pulver, Tim Sylvia, and Ben Rothwell are all on Cox’s extensive list of clients. He owns and promotes Adrenaline MMA, a new mixed martial arts organization that recently signed a television deal with HDNet. He is an outspoken leader who is quick to throw a jab at anyone. His motto, “You can’t argue with results,” certainly rings true. You cannot argue with Monte Cox’s results and his place in MMA history.
Chuck Liddell • 07
Chuck Liddell was the fi rst real superstar in mixed martial arts. From 1999 to 2006, he was as dangerous in the ring as they came. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at his hit list during that time period: Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Jeremy Horn, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz (twice), Randy Couture (twice), and Renato Sobral (twice). Throw in Alistair Overeem, and you’ve got one of the most impressive resumes of all time. Chuck has been on the cover of ESPN magazine. He’s been on just about every late night talk show out there. He’s been on Entourage for crying out loud! We’d give you odds that even a person who’s never seen a fi ght in their life would recognize Chuck Liddell. All of this makes Chuck Liddell the highest rated fi ghter on our list.
Kevin Kay • 08
“The King of All Men” is currently the president of Viacom’s Spike TV, after being promoted in late 2007 from general manager and executive vice president. Kay oversees all original series development and works as the driving force behind the creative direction of the network. Kevin was instrumental in getting the series The Ultimate Fighter launched, which ignited the current MMA phenomenon. Kevin is a huge sports advocate, and keeps a steady fl ow of MMA coming to your television set each month.
TapouT Crew • 09
The trio of Mask, Punk Ass, and Skyskrape have developed a following that rivals most of the fi ghters they support. Boosting their immense popularity is their hit reality television show on the Versus Network. The clothing line is easily the most recognized brand in MMA next to the UFC, and has only furthered its stronghold by sponsoring The Ultimate Fighter Season 7. Having been around since the beginning days of mixed martial arts, the TapouT crew has garnered a level of respect equaled by very few.
Dean Albrecht/MMADHOUSE • 10
Amassing an enormous client list of some of the biggest names in the sport, Dean Albrecht and MMADHOUSE have made a meteoric rise in the MMA business in only two years. He, along with Nick Swinmurn, runs the MMADHOUSE marketing and management agency. His list of clients include: Frank Mir, Joe Stevenson, Miguel Torres, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Nate Marquardt, Stephan Bonnar, Marcus Davis, the Diaz brothers, Tyson Griffi n, Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, and many more. The agency recently signed an exclusive deal with Zappos.com to bring the internet giant into the MMA sponsorship ar
ena. With an ever-expanding roster of fi ghters, MMADHOUSE has solidifi ed itself as one of the major players in the game today.
Randy Couture • 11
When Randy speaks, people listen. Across every MMA media outlet, no other fi ghter has gotten more publicity in the past year than Randy Couture. Couture’s split from the UFC dominated the news and is a hot topic of conversation to this day. But there is much more to Randy than his breakup with Dana White. He has his own supplement line and his own clothing brand. He owns one of the most impressive (and successful) MMA training facilities ever built. He’s a mentor and father fi gure to many young fi ghters. He’s got movie roles lining up. Oh yeah, he also happens to be one of the top ten fi ghters in the world.
Greg Jackson • 12
One of the most sought trainers in MMA, Greg Jackson has proved that he is the man when it comes to fi ght game plans. Greg currently works with some of the sport’s biggest names, such as Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Georges St. Pierre, Nate Marquardt, and most recently Roger Huerta, in his preparations for his fi ght with Kenny Florian. Fans, fi ghters, and peers all consider Jackson to be at the top of the heap when it comes to trainers.
Forrest Griffifi n • 13
His fi ght with Stephan Bonnar will forever be remembered as not only one of the most entertaining fi ghts of all time, but as arguably the fi ght that made modern MMA. Forrest’s wit and charm, along with his relentless work ethic and undying passion for the sport, has propelled him into superstardom. His recent stint as coach on The Ultimate Fighter spiked his already high popularity. It’s safe to say we will see this Georgia native in mixed martial arts for many years to come.
Jeff Sherwood • 14
Founder of the largest mixed martial arts website known to man, Sherdog.com, Sherwood is a true pioneer in MMA. Sherwood was covering MMA when MMA wasn’t cool. The site, launched in 1997, now boasts over 200,000 unique visitors per month and has partnered to be the MMA content provider to ESPN.com.
Joe Rogan • 15
He’s loud. He’s passionate. Sometimes irritating, always captivating…he’s Joe Rogan. A world class athlete as well as a stand up comedian, Rogan is the best there is at what he does. A very knowledgeable color man is hard to come by in our fl edgling sport, but Rogan never misses a beat. When not on the road for his stand up, Rogan is a regular at Legend’s Gym in Hollywood. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Ricardo Liborio • 16
Ricardo Liborio is one of the co-founders of Brazilian Top Team. In 2002, he moved to the United States and co-founded American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. His list of students includes Jeff Monson, Din Thomas, Denis Kang, Gesias Calvancante, Marcus Aurelio, Thiago Alves, Wilson Gouveia, and Thiago Silva. He is a NAGA Hall of Fame member and three-time Brazilian National Champion.
Kevin Lole • 17
When you are the lead MMA writer for the largest website in the world, you’re pretty darn important. Kevin Lole has probably watched more combat sports in the last two decades than anyone on the planet. In 2007, he won the Nat Fleischer Award, which recognizes career excellence in boxing journalism. In 1999, he won the Outstanding Journalist award from the Nevada Press Association and is a four time winner of the state’s top sportswriter award. He’s always front and center, with hard-hitting questions and informative interviews. He is a true advocate of the sport and a legend in the sports journalism circle.
Pat Miletich • 18
Unlike the other trainers on this list, Pat Miletich proved he knows what he’s talking about by kicking ass in the Octagon. Miletich owns Miletich Fighting Systems and trains some of the biggest names in the game. Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Robbie Lawler, Tim Sylvia, and Spencer Fisher have all passed through MFS. However, before his days of training, Miletich was a fullfl edged MMA fi ghter. He won the fi rst-ever lightweight tournament at UFC 16, and was also the fi rst UFC lightweight champion. Pat holds a black belt in Karate as well as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Javier Mendez • 19
As owner and trainer of American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez has life pretty good. With a stable of Josh Thomson, Jon Fitch, Cain Velasguez, Josh Koscheck, Cung Le, Paul Buentello, Mike Swick, and Trevor Prangley, he has assembled a collection of fi ghters that most trainers could only dream of. Add to that his two world championships in kickboxing, and Javier Mendez is living the life.
Bas Rutten • 20
“El Guapo” could easily have made the list as one who paved the way for the athletes of today. However, Bas’s legacy is still being molded. Aside from being one of the most dangerous fi ghters of all time, Bas has opened a world-class training facility in California and has taken the role of Vice President of Fighter Operations for the IFL. If that isn’t enough, he is the co-host of the Inside MMA program on HDNet. Throw in a few acting roles here and there and Bas is still one busy man, even if his days of knocking people out are over.
NARROWLY MISSING THE LIST:
Kimbo Slice (EliteXC Fighter)
• Quinton Jackson (UFC Fighter)
• Frank Trigg (Veteran Fighter/Announcer/Radio Host)
• Dave Meltzer (Yahoo Sports/Wrestling Observer)
• Jeff Clark (Agent)
• Tito Ortiz (Veteran Fighter)
• Ken Pavia (Agent)
• Fedor Emelianenko (Top Pound-for-pound Fighter)
• Scott Peterson (MMAWeekly)
• Herb Dean (Referee)
• Mark Delagrotte (Trainer)
FIVE FOR THE FUTURE:
Georges St. Pierre (UFC fi ghter)
• Urijah Faber (WEC fi ghter)
• Roger Huerta (UFC fi ghter)
• Mark Cuban (HDNet/HDNet Fights owner)
• Scott Adams (WEC matchmaker)
FIVE THAT PAVED THE WAY
Royce Gracie (UFC Hall of Famer)
• Ken Shamrock (UFC Hall of Famer)
• John McCarthy (Legendary MMA Ref)
• Bruce Lee (Iconic Action Film Star)
• Bob Meyrowitz (Creator of the UFC)