Investors and Don King Sinking Teeth Into Mixed Martial Arts

Mike-tyson42_mediumThe vultures are circling:

MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) learned of King's hiring as a senior adviser for the new company from sources close to the Boca Raton, Fla.-based organization, and confirmed the news with King's news media advisor, Robert Weneck.

"[King] has been retained as a senior adviser to a Wall Street group that wanted to invest in mixed martial arts," Weneck said. "[Mandell] put together people from London, from New York, lots of major companies. It's a very credible list. They all wanted to invest in light of the growth of mixed martial arts.

"I said, 'Well, I've represented Don King for 15 years as his news media adviser. Let's get the pioneer of boxing, that understands how to do events, knows all the arenas, knows HBO, knows Showtime, knows all the sports people, and it will save you a lot of time and money.'"

While complete details of the new group's business plan were not immediately clear, the company's initial efforts are expected to begin with a reality show/documentary film series in the style of HBO's successful "24/7," which will use the program to build up the as-yet-unnamed promotion's fighters before the debut event.

"Don has always been tracking (MMA) and keeping up because it's part of what he does," Weneck said. "The thing is, it was just a nice opportunity. ... It would give people an opportunity to participate in a company that could have a potential phenomenal growth and get the proper people together to help these guys.

If this doesn't make your blood curdle, you aren't a mammal. There can be no doubt King can use his resources as well as those of 8-figure investors to produce legitimate quality MMA action. But there can also be no doubt about King's alleged altruism: it doesn't exist. He does not now and will not ever care enough about MMA to ever sacrifice for its sake. Don't you ever forget that. Do not confuse exploring new horizons with what is self-aggrandizement. His entry into MMA was a foregone a conclusion as long as MMA continued to develop. That King is in our midsts now says more about MMA positively than it does about it attracting dubious characters.

As for the plan itself, apparently the wealthy in this country believe they can re-test the theory that at the elite level it is not the UFC that is popular, but MMA. They also seem to believe that the failure of IFLs, Bodogs, AFLs and EliteXCs of the world has given them a new sense of best practices (which would scream repudiate Don King, though, wouldn't it?). Oh, and they think they are going to accomplish something in MMA with a publicly traded company. I'm not suggesting any or all of those ideas won't work, but I do believe it will be interesting to see if they can accomplish those goals if/when the UFC decides its had enough.

UPDATE: A matter of clarification: Without King I’d be a great deal more positive about this. And if its just King’s name and the Rolodex I mentioned earlier, his involvement is not a serious concern (I think). The crux of the issue will be to what extent this is or isn’t King’s operation (although I recognize there are business hurdles to be mindful of no matter King's involvement). I look forward to finding out.

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