Most MMA fans know Nick Thompson as the welterweight competitor who has fought in organizations all over the world including the UFC, Strikeforce, and Sengoku. Now, fans might associate Thompson’s name with the hammering of a gavel. He is now a Wisconsin-based attorney that has also started managing other fighters.
Becoming a full-time attorney a couple of years back, Thompson has worked throughout the legal world including time he still spends as a prosecutor, but now he’s turning his attention back to the sport he loved and still competes in.
Thompson’s acumen as a manager came to light a few years ago, before he gave any serious thought to taking on actual clients.
“It all started from I have one of my teammates was in the WEC when they were first being bought out by Zuffa, and it was during the time when they were doing like two shows a year and a lot of the WEC fighters were irritated because they couldn’t get fights. One of those was Logan Clark, who is a buddy of mine, and as soon as the WEC contract expired, I was fighting in Japan for Sengoku (at the time), and he asked if I’d talk to them for him. I did, and they took him in and it just started progressing from there,” Thompson explained in an interview with MMAWeekly.com.
After that, Thompson started helping various friends and teammates with contract negotiations before taking the next step to actually managing fighters. Having competed for virtually every major promotion in both the U.S. and Japan, Thompson has a unique insight that most managers in MMA simply don’t have.
He’s a fighter first.
“I think it definitely gives me some advantages,” Thompson said of his experience as a fighter helping him as a manager. “I think anybody that works hard and is honest will do well as a manager.”
He also spent a lot of years going through law school, and now that he’s a practicing attorney, that gives him a leg up on much of the competition.
“I think one advantage I have is I am a lawyer. So when I look at contracts I’m surprised by the amount of mistakes in the contracts, things people agreed to that they’re just not aware of, so whether you’re representing yourself or having someone represent you, I highly recommend you at least have an attorney look over your contract. Then from a negotiating stand point, I’ve fought for every major organization in the world,” said Thompson.
His roster of fighters currently includes veterans like Dan Hornbuckle, Mike Ciesnolevicz, Logan Clark, Kaitlin Young, Derrick Noble, Brian Geraghty, and recent UFC signee Kenny Robertson. While in the beginning it was something he enjoyed, Thompson is hopeful to eventually do fight management full time.
Past experiences also led to Thompson’s current job. Lucky in his own career not to deal with any managers or promoters that tried to take advantage of him, he’s seen the other side of the story and usually it doesn’t end very well for the fighters involved.
“I’ve always been fortunate that I’ve always been managed by buddies, and even though they probably weren’t the best managers, I never had to worry about them being dishonest,” Thompson explained. “Some of the horror stories you see about managers basically killing their own fighters, throwing them under buses just to make a dime.
“I was really fortunate that I never had that happen, but I really realize how frequent that is because as I started managing how wary guys are even as friends, to sign management agreements, things like that, just cause they’re so used to just getting screwed.”
One big advantage that Thompson believes helps him in his quest to become a full-time fight manager is that he won’t be starting his own company or fight management firm. He works along with his fellow attorneys at O’Flaherty, Heim, Egan and Birnbaum, LTD in Wisconsin, and with that comes the expertise of an entire firm of lawyers and staff to review any potential contracts with their fighters.
Thompson points to the good people in the world of MMA he’s dealt with over the years and names managers like Monte Cox as the gold standard in fight management. Unfortunately, Thompson says, there are always managers that don’t hold themselves in that same regard and it can cost fighters money, opportunities, and in some cases even their careers.
“Unfortunately a lot of promoters are shady and managers are shady, and I think fighters realize that I’ve been there and that I’m one of them,” Thompson commented. “I’m not going to screw them over. I’ve been the guy living off of paycheck to paycheck from fight to fight. I think they feel comfortable that I want to help them and not suck blood off of them.”
With a family at home and a full time job as an attorney, Thompson admits that he’s not sure when or if his own fight career will pick up again. One thing he knows for sure is that as a manager working in MMA he gets to stay involved in the sport he loves, and something that’s been a part of his life for the last decade.
“I really like helping fighters,” Thompson said about his new job. “I really like the sport.”