Odds are, if you’re a hardcore fan of mixed martial arts, you’re familiar with Titan Fighting Championships. You may not be familiar with the distinct role the company serves in the greater MMA landscape.
Since current Titan FC CEO Jeff Aronson purchased a majority stake from founder Joe Kelly in December 2013, the promotion has made strides to take on somewhat of a feeder position to the sport’s grandest stage, the UFC.
Aronson has worked to shift the identity of Titan FC ever since he purchased the promotion, which had fallen on rough times.
“When I bought Titan, they were an obscurity,” Aronson said. “They had lost their television deal on AXS TV. I saw a promotion that had a very good history and with a little tender loving care could become one of the top promotions in the country. Sure enough, we watered the plant and it started to bloom.”
Since that purchase, Titan FC has gone on to become one of the UFC’s largest affiliates, being a premiere showcase on UFC Fight Pass. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, as many of Titan FC’s best fighters have gone on to reach the UFC; some have even made strides.
Tim Elliott is a perfect example. Elliott was cut from the UFC after a 2-4 stint that saw him lose to the creme de la creme of the flyweight division: John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez and Ali Bagautinov to name a few.
Elliott promptly signed with Aronson’s company following his release, and rattled off three straight wins under the Titan FC banner. All three of Elliott’s victories for the promotion were title fights.
Eventually, the UFC ran The Ultimate Fighter: Season 24, which saw flyweight champions from across the globe compete for a crack at UFC flyweight kingpin, Demetrious Johnson, who just tied Anderson Silva’s title defense record.
Naturally, Elliott was featured on that iteration of TUF, and managed to win the show. He came up short against Johnson after giving the champion a scare in the first round, but Elliott is just one example of a former Titan FC fighter who has found success in the UFC. In his last fight, Elliott won a one-sided decision over Louis Smolka.
“There is no better stage in MMA to get yourself into the UFC than Titan,” Aronson said. “It’s proven by the amount of UFC fighters that have come from our roster that are in the UFC today. It’s been amazing to help cultivate the careers of these guys.”
Desmond Green, the former Titan FC featherweight champion, recently won his UFC debut against Josh Emmett. Belal Muhammad (Titan welterweight champion) is 2-2 in the UFC. Brett Johns (Titan bantamweight champion) won his UFC debut against Kwan Ho Kwak.
“We are the ultimate funnel hole for the best prospects in the country,” Aronson said. “We always wind up with some of the best prospects in the country.”
Some of those prospects will be on display on May 19 at Titan FC 44, which Aronson has said will be “an amazing version of a typical Titan card” that features both hot prospects and wily veterans looking to make it to the UFC.
Most notable is Jose Torres, who attempt to become the first two-division champion for Titan FC. Torres, the promotion’s flyweight champion, will battle it out with bantamweight champion Farkhad Sharipov in the main event. Aronson said he believes that there will be no denying Torres a spot on the UFC roster if he accomplishes the feat of winning two belts.
In addition, Kurt Holobaugh and Gesias Cavalcante will fight for the interim lightweight strap. Undefeated welterweight prospects William Starks and Isidro Rodriguez will also be featured early on the card.
With all of these upcoming fighters and veterans under the Titan FC banner looking to reach the UFC, one had to wonder if Titan FC’s deal with the UFC has altered at all since the $4 billion sale of the promotion from Zuffa to WME-IMG last year.
Aronson confirmed there were no changes made to the contracts between the two promotions, and he looks forward to continuing business with the UFC. He said he’s pleased with his promotion’s position on UFC Fight Pass, which he referred to as “the Netflix for MMA.”
As for the future, Aronson said he and his promotion plan on continuing to develop young stars, signing the best prospects and veterans, making each show better than the last, and continuing down the path of success that he’s been following since 2013.
“The future’s really bright for Titan,” Aronson said.