Canadian promoters comment on Patrick Cote’s recent statement

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 13: Patrick Cote conducts an open training session for fans and media ahead of his UFC 158 bout at Complexe Desjardins on March 13, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 13: Patrick Cote conducts an open training session for fans and media ahead of his UFC 158 bout at Complexe Desjardins on March 13, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Over the weekend Patrick Cote picked up his third win in a row and his tenth in his last twelve fights. The Predator made his welterweight debut at UFC 158 in March 2013 and has since gone 5-1 under the new weight class, with his lone loss coming to Stephen Thompson.

The veteran of the sport got his career started back in 2002 on the regional scene in Quebec, Canada. A number of big name UFC talent from Canada got started on the local scene, however it seems like MMA in Canada has been dwindling down a little bit in terms of UFC roster spots over the last few years.

In an interview with Damon Martin of FOX Sports, Cote explained his reasoning behind this. “We don’t have any serious organization to build the next generation. That’s the biggest problem here.”

Without MFC and TKO, the big names are out the door, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t promotions in Canada that are showcasing talent. So I posed the question to a number of promoters across the country, asking them to respond to Cote’s comment about not having any “serious organization” out there.

Lee Mein (Rumble in the Cage President) – He is right. There isn’t money in promoting, so it’s tough to build guys up and pay them what they are worth till they can make it to the UFC and get underpaid. I have the longest running show in Canada. Have had lots of great fighters come through my show, but the budget to go bigger each time is hard, so I have to stick to a strict budget and do what I can. I will keep doing shows, but wish there was a way to afford to have guys from all over Canada come fight here.

It would be ideal if the promotors worked together with a common network deal to have a league of shows but the ego of promoters probably won’t let it happen but I would if we could.

Justin Donally (Fivestar Fight League President) – Here’s the problem, most fans, or even guys who cover the sport don’t realize, Probably 50% (on the low side) of MMA promotions lose money, unless promoting shows in their home towns where they can promote and build homegrown talent that sells tickets.

In the early days of Fivestar Fight League we tested many markets and brought in a lot of big talent. In 2013 we were the most active promotion in Canada and did shows across three provinces, truth be told we lost money on half those shows.

Whether or not they will admit it or not, most of the bigger shows going at that time and still now are losing money on a lot of shows. In 2014 we were forced to tighten things up and stay in the markets closer to home.

So what you’re seeing now are promotions that want to stay in the game for the long haul, settle into markets where they can make money constantly and take a risk on the odd show, much like the old wrestling territory days. That’s why you see the smart guys who are outlasting everyone and staying consistent like the RINC, BFL, Unified, Havoc and ourselves to name a few sticking to one area and promoting the local talent and putting together maybe one or two big fights per card.

Would we like to be doing huge shows every month all over Western Canada and building talent to the UFC, yes! Of course! We love the sport and got into this to build talent, but not at the risk of losing the promotion that builds the talent.

Now maybe the reasons why the tickets aren’t selling is the UFC has flooded the market, or perhaps the sport has peaked, I really don’t know, but I know we are good at what we do and promote hard in every city we visit and we never sell more than 1000-1500 tickets tops.

So I think by promoting smart to last long term makes many of us very serious promotions that continue to do it because we love the sport and although were maybe not building talent at the rate others would like to see or even ourselves sometimes, were still building talent and will continue to for years to come.

Darren Cliffe (XFFC President) – What Cote said was his opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I will just keep putting on great shows and the results will either prove his opinion correct or incorrect. If I was a betting man…. I would lean towards the latter.

Cord Crowthers (Prestige FC President) – Patrick is a close personal friend of mine and of a lot of us here in Saskatchewan. I’ve known Patrick for a long time, he’s a fantastic fighter and a fantastic human being. He makes some valid points and there’s two sides to every coin. The Canadian market has dropped off there is no doubt about it. Is it because there is not enough promotions, it is partially, but then again it’s hard to have the promotions when you’ve got things going against you. Take Ontario for instance — when the commission that was set up in Ontario was set up for one reason, to stop MMA from happening. They’re not there to promote the sport. We have a new commission here in Saskatchewan who is doing an amazing job. They followed the California commission and the British Columbia commission and they helped us all the way along to help build the rules and regulations and they’re doing great. With that happening you’re probably going to see more mom and pop shops opening up in the Western Prairies hopefully. In Canada if it’s not hockey, it doesn’t count. It’s always been the rule, always will be the rules. But we’re trying hard with a company like Prestige, when MFC was going, big companies that want to do right and make it a business, we think we can bring it back and bring it full swing. Are there more fighters than there are promotions, by far. You could have 200 shows doing shows every weekend and still not get everyone fights. Patrick made some points and they’re valid points, but I think companies like Prestige, I think we’re going to our best to change that for sure. There’s some great talent in Canada and every day you’re getting new fighters coming out of every province.

Jay Golshani (Battlefield Fight League President) – I would agree with him out east that is the case and that’s probably what Patrick is referring too. On the west coast things are completely different with the big two promotions holding over 90 pro events combined in the past five years.

Jesse Fox (Owner/Operator at Havoc Fighting Championships) – I think what’s missed in this article is the fact that shows are double the cost as they were before, Commission costs are higher , flights are more, hotels are more , fighters want huge money to fight but ticket sales have always stayed the same also most venues we use her won’t allow us to have our own liquor license so that right there cuts any revenue we could have gotten in half. I’ve put on 10 shows in the last three years and I’m pretty honest with everyone about how much money is made which isn’t a lot. Promoting shows for us at Havoc Fighting Championships is for the love of the sport not even close to our full time job. We’ve lost money on two of our 10 shows and broke even twice but every show has been a blast to put on and see.

So for him to say some of that stuff in the article is uneducated in my opinion. But until you put a show on no one know what it actually costs , people see a big crowd and instantly think you made all this cash which isn’t the case 80% of the time.

I think Alberta is doing great we have 4 solid shows there’s a fight card almost every month and have a lot of legit fighters and up and comers.

Patrick has been around the sport a long time but until you put a show on yourself and spend your own money you don’t realize the cost involved, you can’t just bring in top talent from all over the world like the UFC when you have a 1500 person venue , you’ll be a one and done fight promotion.

Sunny Sareen (Unified MMA President) – I can understand Patrick’s view on it, some of Canada’s largest promotions have come and gone now like The Score Fighting Series, MFC and TKO. Those were all quality promotions that helped build some of the countries elite. But we do have some great promotions starting to build our countries top athletes like Havoc, Xcessive Force, Hard Knocks, King of the Cage and Unified MMA. But it will take time for us to see who starts making an impact on rankings. I’m expecting a solid year from up and coming MMA fighters across Canada.

I think Canadian MMA is pretty strong lately as well. I think they just feel it worse out east because of their commission.

2 COMMENTS

  1. i put on 3 shows in montreal in 18 months, during that time, there were at least another 3 shows by 2 different promoters. thats 6 shows in 18 months, i dont know about the other guys, but pat cote didnt show up to anyone of my shows, or offer any support of any nature. i didnt do the shows to make money, i knew i would lose, i wanted to get guys fights because there had been a lull in quebec mma. the cheapest show i put on cost 55 000 and our revenue didnt even come close! i have tremendous respect for all the guys quoted in the article who are trying to keep this sport going. its not a lack of fighters, at least in my opinion, corporate sponsorship has dried up, the value proposition to casual fans is limited and how long can a promoter go losing money until they say alright i tried enough is enough

  2. You missed a very successful promotion out east(Ontario is not “the east”), in Nova Scotia: Extreme Cage Combat.

    While not putting on 10 shows a year like some other organizations, they’re putting on their 24th show next month, which is a real triumph in a small market.

    The UFC is actually a huge problem in the viability of local fight scenes in my opinion. They saturate the market with so many events, that consumers aren’t left wanting more. Between events and fight nights, the casual fan, the one that local promoters need to come out to shows, has lots to watch at home or the local pub.

    The second issue is that the UFC views the regional organizations as rivals, rather than allies. When a UFC fight night came to Halifax NS, the home turf of ECC, there was no co-promotion at all. This was due to the UFC considering ECC a rival, rather than a proving ground for young fighters who hope to make it to the UFC one day. This failure to align with regional promoters means that there aren’t purses for up and comers to survive in the fight game.

    The UFC is killing off its future success in opting to try and take all the money on the table now, rather than building a long term feeder system to deliver top tier talent.

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