The beginning of a new MMA promotion’s life can be challenging. The market is already saturated, local crowds need to be inspired to purchase tickets and financial loss is almost a certainty, especially when a new organization launches.
Mix Fight Combat (MFC) originated in a small gym in Beer Sheva, Israel. Founded in 2011 by an ex-Israeli special forces officer, Vitali Semionov, the gym became a venue for teenagers to avoid crime by hitting the pads instead.
After a short while, his students started competing and, due to the shortage in local promotions, MFC was born. MFC had four successful local events which operated domestically. MFC’s main challenge is finding the local talent to fight on a regular basis against quality opponents.
Coming to Kiev
The first international event for MFC will take place in Kiev, Ukraine on Friday, December 14th. Several key figures within the Israeli MMA scene joined forces to bring this historic event into being.
One such figure was Kiril Medvedovsky, an agent from the Knockout Fighters Management Team, who was the direct link to the Ukrainian capital. This direct connection created logistical issues, such as finding a reputable venue and making matchmaking efforts possible.
Another crucial element was cooperation with one of Israel’s first pioneers in MMA, Haim Gozali. Gozali recently fought veteran MMA welterweight Ryan Couture in the co-main event at Bellator 209 in Tel Aviv in November.
“I spoke with Vitaly and we decided to join forces,” Gozali told MMASucka. “Up until now, MFC was operating, but without registering nor ranking fighters. This time it’s different.”
The event will feature a welterweight Tournament Grand Prix which will consist of four fighters. The semi-finals will be the first fights of the evening, while the tournament finals will be the main event of the evening so that the winners of the semi-finals will have sufficient time to recover. The winner of that final will be declared as MFC’s first ever Welterweight champion.
Aside from an appearance by Gozali, two Israeli prospects will participate as well. Honor Kelesh will square off against Sergey Kovalchuk in a lightweight bout, while Raz Bring will compete against Mikhal Zavertaev in a flyweight fight.
MFC’s first international event agenda is rather clear.
“The idea is to feature more Israeli fighters, so they can fight consistently,” Gozali said. “Although we have Bellator coming to Israel once a year, we need to have our local talents fighting regularly so they can develop their careers further.”
Ukraine was an easy choice for the promoters due to several reasons.
“Financially, Ukraine is a cheaper solution for us. When one is comparing the costs to other countries, it makes sense for us,” Gozali said. “Ukrainian fighters show up to fight. Just let them know when and where, and they will be there on time.”
Like Israel, Ukraine is new to the MMA scene and has fighters that are eager to prove their worth on the international stage.
An MMA tournament is not the only romantic feature for this fight. The venue, the Reconquista Club in Kiev, operates mainly as a nightclub, but on the weekends, the club transforms to a fight club where local fighters can showcase their skills.
Although the venue only holds about 400 spectators, a smaller, but enthusiastic crowd, can create an electric “Fight Club” atmosphere. Those scenes are rather rare these days. Fans often prefer the nostalgic romance of small intense fight nights.
After the conclusion of the first international MFC event, Seminonov’s plan is to have frequent events.
“After this event in Kiev, we will have the follow-up event in Israel during April. The overall plan is to have the first welterweight champion defending his belt for the first time in April,” Semionov said.
Establishing a promotion from scratch is a risk. The entrepreneurs’ combined passion for the sport is what drives this kind of venture. Only time will tell if they manage to not only stay for the long run but also become a home for fighters at the beginning of their careers.