September 10, 2007

by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of April Pishna, PishnaPhoto.com)

Despite a stint as the president of Pride’s U.S. operations as the promotion dove into oblivion, casino and entertainment mogul Ed Fishman is still as motivated as ever to make a run at mixed martial arts promotion.

In fact, in speaking with Fishman, he confirmed to MMAWeekly that he is already on course for a big move into the MMA space in 2008. He has already signed on with several venues to host MMA events in China, Macau and Las Vegas during the year.

One of the bigger questions is what form those events will take. Fishman is currently nearing a point where he will be ready to make some “big announcements” regarding the promotional side of the equation. But he couldn’t reveal yet whether the promotion would be a start-up of his own accord or an acquisition or partnership, although it would seem the latter would be more feasible considering his desire to start holding events in 2008.

Pointing towards that latter scenario, it is interesting to note that Fishman was in attendance for the recent Art of War event in Dallas, Texas, as was Guy Mezger, who is being tapped to head up a portion of billionaire Mark Cuban’s own ventures into MMA.

In fact, Reed Wallace, President of White Chocolate Management, has said that his firm is working with both Fishman and Cuban in varying facets and believes that it isn’t out of the question that the two entities may end up working together in some fashion. “It makes sense [that the Fishman and Cuban might end up working together], I think it would be a very synergistic relationship,” said Wallace, although no official partnership was confirmed at this point.

Whether a relationship develops in partnership with Cuban or not, Fishman is moving forward. Another recent development that he has confirmed is a television presence for his venture. Having yet to outline the details of what form it would take, Fishman did confirm that he and media mogul Dick Clark have agreed to produce a new one-hour, weekly MMA show for television that will also be out in 2008.

The weekly show does not yet have a network home, but with the involvement of Clark, it isn’t a stretch to say that the partnership has some solid inroads into making the show a reality on American television.

Fishman is also one of the many parties interested in the services of Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, and other world-class fighters that are currently looking for a home, but hasn’t indicated that he has a roster in place or nearing completion. He obviously sees value in a fighter like Fedor, but was quick to point out that he doesn’t believe that a promotion should be built on the back of one fighter.

There are still many questions surrounding Fishman’s return to mixed martial arts promotion, but if his past successes in gaming and television are any indication of what the man can do, he is certainly an interesting factor in the future direction of the sport. Fishman pioneered slot club cards, riverboat gambling, gambling tournaments, and other facets of the gaming industry, as well as, creating the TV game show “Dealer’s Choice.”

Can Fishman take those past successes and build the next MMA empire in a world currently dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Only time will tell, but it appears that Fishman is dedicated to the task.