Shine Fights has been fighting an uphill battle ever since their May 2010 show was canceled amidst a cloud of controversy. Main event fighter Ricardo Mayorga was pulled from the card, the commission in North Carolina decided to cancel the entire show after certain requirements weren’t met, and then several fighters stated that they never received compensation for the contracted bouts.
Signing on with the company around the same time, current Shine Fights COO Jason Chambers has now been working tirelessly to move on from that May debacle and bring the organization back to what it was just weeks prior to that card’s cancellation: one of the best up-and-coming promotions for young talent and veteran fighters to be put on a big stage, with a chance to be seen on pay-per-view.
Chambers understands the challenge before him. Following the May show, the organization decided to come back in September with a one-night lightweight tournament. That show also fell under scrutiny after the Virginia commission in charge of sanctioning decided last-minute to disallow the show and Shine scrambled to move the entire production to Oklahoma on one week’s notice.
The show took place in Oklahoma, but of course experienced a few more hiccups along the way. Still, Chambers moves forward because he knows that changing people’s opinions about Shine Fights won’t happen overnight.
“I knew I was going to face a lot of opposition and a lot of people that wanted to, just the negative people tend to have the loudest voices. They make the most noise,” Chambers told MMAWeekly.com. “One person will complain about food in a restaurant and it takes 100 people to say how good the restaurant is before that one negative comment on Yelp throws it down the tube. It’s one of those things going into it I knew what I was going to have.”
Chambers has been working to sign new talent to the Shine Fights roster lately, including former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Efrain Escudero, along with other UFC veterans like Rolles Gracie and Mike Ciesnolevicz. While the promotion has yet to officially schedule a follow-up to September’s Oklahoma event, Chambers believes they need continuity and a business strategy before just throwing together a card simply to have a show.
“I think the key component to any successful business is creating that business developmental model so there’s a system that gets replicated on how things get done,” said Chambers.
“I think we’re still in that growth period of what makes the most sense. How do we figure out where these venues should be? What’s the process and the pattern that we follow? That’s one of the things that makes McDonald’s exceedingly successful is that you can eat McDonald’s in Texas, Canada, Mexico, and it’s the same burger, it’s the same thing. It’s being able to replicate that same end result over and over and over again.”
The business model that Chambers could follow has been laid out by several MMA companies over the last few years. From promotions that have succeeded to those that have failed, the blue print is out there and now it’s up to Shine Fights to follow them.
“What the company requires right now is constant diligence to grow. There’s been so many people out there that have shown us the way to succeed – Bellator, Strikeforce, the UFC, and even some of the smaller organizations, and there’s been so many examples of how to fail with the WFA, EliteXC, Pro Elite, IFL, Bodog, that I think the most important thing was to have the ability to pump our own brakes,” Chambers explained.
“Sometimes MMA companies get too ambitious too quick, and they want to grow outside of their scope and they want to jump in and compete with the UFC and say ‘we’re the No. 2 guys’ right away. They go through $20, $30, $50 million dollars in a very short span of time because it’s easier to get things done than to think about the right ways to do them.”
What Shine Fights hopes to achieve is a throwback to a different brand of MMA. They want to continue with their one-night tournaments, as well as making the ring an integral part of the plan when it comes to how they put on shows.
“We’re kind of recreating that Pride feel,” said Chambers. “Our fights will always be in a ring. It creates a different dynamic. There’s more knockouts, more submissions, it creates corners, it’s harder to get takedowns for wrestlers, they have more of an edge in a cage. I think it offers a slightly different spin on something, and visually it makes it easier to look at.”
While the Shine Fights COO keeps his ambitions lofty, he’s not putting the cart before the horse. The road is just starting out for the company under his control, and Chambers knows the ride will likely be bumpy before it smooths out. The key, Chambers says, is to keep working hard and the results will follow.
“Right now I think that we’re probably No. 4,” Chambers admitted. “You can’t argue the UFC is No. 1, you can’t argue that Strikeforce is No. 2, and I think it’s easy enough to say Bellator is No. 3 just because of their television deal, their scope of reach, and their branding. I think right now we’re sitting at No. 4 because there haven’t been a lot of companies that have been able to build the relationships, been able to get DirecTV the way we have. I’ve got a great guy that does our pay-per-view deals and DirecTV is on board with the next several shows. We’ve got a cable network that’s going to bring Shine into 60 million homes.
“I think we could easily be No. 2 or No. 3; I think that’s three to five years down the road.”
Chambers is quick to point out that he’s still a fan of the UFC and Strikeforce. He doesn’t plan on falling into the same traps that past promotions have by calling out competitors when they don’t have a gun in the battle. He plans to attack by making Shine Fights a good brand and a fan friendly promotion, but not in spite of the other organizations, simply to make their own way in the world.
“The UFC is the UFC. I’m going to watch the UFC till the day I die. I’m still going to go to the events. I’m still going to harass Dana on Twitter. I’m still going to go watch Strikeforce,” Chambers commented.
“We’re reaching out to the fans to know what they want to see, who they want to see, and what makes the most sense. We’re going to make mistakes as we go, but hopefully we’ll learn from those and continue to be a fan friendly organization that offers exciting fights.”
Shine Fights is currently putting together its first show for 2011, which could take place as early as January next year, although nothing has been finalized at this time.