(Special to MMAWeekly.com)
Malki Kawa of First Round Management is trying to change the face of MMA management by eliminating the negative stigmas that have come hand in hand with it since MMA started getting mass exposure.
He has some standards of representation that you won’t find in practice with some of the current fighter management teams. For instance, he doesn’t believe in locking down his athletes in long term contracts.
He feels that if a fighter is unhappy with their management, they should be able to leave on their own terms, and without having to pay an early termination fee. He goes on to say that all of his fighters are signed to the same deal.
Kawa outlined the details of signing Jon Jones, amidst some controversy that he may have acted unethically and stolen Jones from another manager.
He denied those rumors, saying, “Jon approached one of my clients, which was Thiago Alves, and he asked him who represented him, because (Jones) wanted the same representation. And that’s how our relationship started. It took a certain amount of money to settle to get out. I don’t think Jon is ever going to look back again because of the type of work I do for him.”
When addressing management with questionable practices of paying fighters to stay with their respective agencies, he had a message.
“If you’re a manager and you’re paying a fighter who’s in the UFC money so that they can be with you, you suck,” Kawa stated. “You’re probably the worst type of manager out there. And if you’re a fighter, and you’re taking money from a manager for the same reason, then you probably suck too, and you shouldn’t do it.”
Kawa doesn’t believe in taking a percentage of “Fight of the Night” or other bonuses promotions offer to fighters either. He believes that only the athlete is responsible for performance based bonuses, and the management team shouldn’t receive compensation for something they had nothing to do with.
Regarding Ben Henderson, Kawa believes that he is the number one contender after defeating Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 this past weekend. And due to the timing of other contender fights, Melvin Guillard being at the top of the list, Clay Guida will probably be Henderson’s next opponent.
“Clay Guida would be the guy that would make the most sense based on scheduling,” Kawa said.
Kawa also spoke briefly on Diego Sanchez and his upcoming fight with Matt Hughes at UFC 135. He feels that Diego has never been better since rejoining Team Jackson, and that he’s “chased away all his demons.”