(Roy Englebrecht, courtesy of PMMAL.com.)
When boxing promoter Roy Englebrecht bought a minor league baseball team with actor Mark Harmon in 1987, he had no idea that he would get to get to see the start of a Hall of Fame career. In 1988, the Seattle Mariners assigned a young left handed center fielder to the San Bernadino Spirit and when that kid made the American League All-Star team the following year, San Berdoo fans could brag that they saw Ken Griffey Jr. play for five bucks. Now Englebrecht wants to give that opportunity to fans of mixed martial arts.
Englebrecht intends to do that with the Professional Mixed Martial Arts League, or PMMAL, a team-based MMA promotion that he called, “the legitimate minor league of MMA.”
The promoter knows the team format has been tried before without success but feels that the limited geographic scope of the league will hold down costs and allow fighters to build a local and regional following. “This is not the IFL where they named the team for a town and nobody lived there,” Englebrecht said.
The PMMAL will sell charters for territorial rights to qualified owners in San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Las Vegas. “If the person who owns the San Diego franchise, they can host events in any city in that county. If they want to play in El Cajon, they can play in El Cajon,” said Englebrecht.
The eight-team league will compete in two conferences, Ocean and Desert. Each PMMAL team will select 14 fighters in a League Draft scheduled for December of 2009. According to Englebrecht fighters will be signed to exclusive contracts by their respective PMMAL team but can be traded, waived or loaned out to larger promotions at the discretion of the team owner. PMMAL teams will compete once a month for eight months before entering an annual playoff. Additionally, all owners must attend Englebrecht’s Fight Promoter University seminar.
Minor league sports have been a passion of Englebrecht’s for as long as he’s been promoting fights. The former chief operating officer of Golden Boy Promotions, Englebrecht has also held stakes in the class A ball Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Arena Football League’s Anaheim Piranhas and the Reno Rage minor league hockey team. And just like those leagues cultivate talent for the Big Show, Englebrecht wants to see high turnover on PMMAL teams. “To see a PMMAL fighter signed by Dana [White], signed by Scott [Coker], or on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ would be a dream,” he said.
It’s that dream that led a veteran promoter to try his hand where others have failed before. “God has blessed me for 25 years to make a wonderful living in combative sports and I need to give something back,” said Englebrecht. “I need to have other people’s deams come true like they’ve come true for me.”
For more information on the Professional Mixed Martial Arts League visit PMMAL.com.