Working as both a managing partner at Iridium Sports Agency and as the president of 559 Fights, Jeremy Luchau has had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in a multitude of ways, dealing with a myriad of fighters across several platforms.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, Luchau discussed the cancellations of several of his 559 Fights cards, as well as balancing dealing with fighters as a promoter and a manager, as well as the proposed UFC plans for events at the Tachi Palace Casino prior to their relocations to Nevada and eventually Florida.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Jeremy, take us back to March and when things started getting shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and what that was like for you and 559 Fights.
Jeremy Luchau: I want to say early on the morning of the 12th the state athletic commission said no events could be held, but at that time I was already kind of working through the social distancing, and the 250 people (limit) they were allowing.
I was trying to figure out a way to be creative and do an event with 250 people and be safe. I had already discussed things with the venue and how it could work. I made our pitch to see if we could make it safe, and the state athletic commission said now and they weren’t going to allow it at that time.
I had events scheduled in April, May, and June. I just kind of pushed everything over from March to April, then to May and started working on thing for that event, then they cancelled May, so I moved May to June. I’m kind of pushing to the next month each time and working with the fighters and seeing how their camps are going and if they’re going to be able to compete or not, and things of that nature.
MMAWeekly.com: What was it like to have to coordinate with fighters not only for 559 Fights, but also for Iridium Sports Agency and keeping that all organized?
Jeremy Luchau: I do have a matchmaking team, Antoine Hood and Mike Moreno, and I do make sure that we’re meeting weekly and we’re coordinating who we are talking to every week and things of that nature.
On the management side of things, I’m super blessed at Iridium that Jason (House) and I have such a great team, and that we’ve always really been on top of talking to our fighters regardless. As weird as it may sound it’s not much of a change for us because we talk to our guys on a weekly basis or every other day when we have group chats set up that we’re always talking to our guys and making sure they’re okay and seeing what we need.
MMAWeekly.com: During April there were reports that the UFC was trying to hold a show at the Tachi Palace Casino, where 559 Fights promotes shows. What is it like to promote shows on tribal land, and how viable were the UFC’s proposed plans?
Jeremy Luchau: As far as promoting events at Tachi and being on tribal land and doing events, it’s been going on for 20 years. It’s all about you the promoter and being in touch with the people there at the tribe and the casino and making sure that you do things safely. Working with the UFC over the last 10 years, there’s no one who is going to do things safer than them.
I’m 100-percent positive that whatever safety protocols they were going to put in place to do an event at Tachi on both sides it would have been safe as possible. All the things coming out that there were no local hospitals is completely false. There’s a hospital 10 miles away. That it would have been an undue burden on the health care system there in Kings County is totally false. At the time, there were only five total cases of COVID-19 in the entire county. Again, this is all at that time. I think the UFC could have done a safe event. I think everything would be fine.
MMAWeekly.com: Going forward, what do you think it will be like in the coming weeks and months, and possible changes we could see in promoting events?
Jeremy Luchau: (Right now) it’s still business as usual. I’m still talking to our clients. I’m still booking fights. I think any promoter that’s worth a lick is trying to find things, trying to be creative, trying to find solutions to problems.
Are there going to be some changes once things open up? For sure. I’m sure there’s going to be limitations that we’re going to try to figure out, and if you’re a good promoter you’re going to find ways to work with it and be successful.
I think there’s definitely going to be challenges on if the economy going to be back fully or if people are going to want to buy tickets, we don’t know all those things yet, so I think it’s going to be a matter of which promotions are going to stay ahead of the curve and which promotions are really trying to find things differently.
We’re all going to have to make adjustments for what is safe for fans, athletes, and to make things work. The best promoters find ways to make things work and put on the show in a safe way.