Taking time out of his ridiculously busy schedule, we spoke with promoter Soco McAllister. This guy is a true fan of MMA and is continuing to bring great fights to the Atlanta area.
NextMMAFighter : Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with us Soco. How are the final preparations coming together for Sportfight X’s “Beatdown in the Ballroom”?
SportfightX Soco : I am doing an interview at 1:40 AM, but there ain’t no rest for the wicked, right? We are exceeding all expectations brother. Honestly every minute that goes by, I get a little more excited because tickets sales are great and as long as everything goes well at the weigh ins I think we are going to have an amazing show. This is a show with genuine interest built around it.
NextMMAFighter : Tell us a bit about the fighters you have in the cage on Friday Night.
SportfightX Soco : 90% of the fighters on the card have been the main event at other regional shows. I think that alone speaks volumes. I don’t even know where to begin, Diego Saraiva UFC veteran in the co-main event against an up and coming stand out DJ Fuentes from Matt Hughes camp. Warren Thompson, honestly the only way you’re not a fan of Warren is if you’ve never seen him fight. The guy is amazing on his feet yet somehow wins more fights by submission, just one of those mysteries. Byron Bloodworth, another main event guy, talented in any direction the fight goes. Frank Millsap, last three fights of his he’s been the main event, excellent wrestler who loves to stand. Card is just loaded with talent from top to bottom.
All of us are looking forward to the Redline Grand Prix finals.
NextMMAFighter : For anyone who hasn’t been following along, tell us about the $10,000 Redline VPX Grand Prix.
SportfightX Soco : This is the most anticipated cage fighting tournament in Georgia history, you’re not the only one who’s ready for this show to happen. We hand picked eight of the toughest unsigned fighters from around the country and put them in a cage to find the best. We put up a 10,000 dollar grand prize courtesy of REDLINE VPX and said may the best man win. Well we’ve seen some amazing fights from it and these final two guys are one fight away from the big show. Douglas Lima is 22 years old and has 14 victories under his belt, his first fight he needed a permission slip from his mother at the age of 17. He is an example athlete.
Cortez Coleman is from Matt Hughes camp in St. Louis and he is an example of struggle. He comes from a very rough background and honestly he was a last minute filler for this tournament. From the beginning, we didn’t think much of him. Turns out that’s kind of the way the world has treated him since birth and he is a fighter. Coming out here against all the odds and in a city where no one cheered for him, he persevered and he is here in the finals. Check out his video at sportfightx.com and see his training routine. It’s intense.
NextMMAFighter : Aside from the stellar pros you have on the card for Friday night, who are some up and coming amateur fighters you think have a bright future.
SportfightX Soco : We don’t have many amateur fights on the card but one that stands out is Hamza Utelib vs Jeremy Wallace. Hamza is about as dynamic as they come and he is an entertainer. Wallace is a piece of iron who is brutally strong and just loves to fight. They are both solid athletes already and I think that’s going to be a fun one to start the show with.
NextMMAFighter : As one of the premier promoters in the Southeast, what got you into the fight game?
SportfightX Soco : I came from a marketing background and spent years in that industry. I have never missed a UFC since the first one and have always been passionate about this sport. I had always dreamed of being involved with the UFC in some way. A few years back I sold out of my marketing businesses and decided to go where my heart was, and pushed myself into the game. I knew this region had some decent MMA shows but nothing for Atlanta to really call it’s home show. We are building that, by creating outstanding relationships with great companies that are interested in the growth of MMA as a sport and those relationships are going to take our events to the next level.
NextMMAFighter : What separates what you are doing from the rest of the shows of the region?
SportfightX Soco : We are doing things that others aren’t. Our image attracts the right type of people, the right caliber of fighter and a bigger group of sponsors. This isn’t Crazy Bob’s Fight Night, we are building a professional sports organization that the entire family can enjoy and everyone will appreciate that as we grow.
It’s funny the bigger you grow, the more critics you seem to find. Someone said today I should look at things in the fighters perspective, I found it funny as I thought of other shows in the region. Has anyone in Georgia history ever given away 10k in a tournament? Why would they? They could keep that money for themselves. I sometimes wonder if I think too much in the fighter’s perspective. Who knows.
NextMMAFighter : What advice do you have for fighters who are trying to take things to the next level in their careers?
SportfightX Soco : Sacrifices have to be made at some point. You have to find a great team to train with. Period. There are plenty of them, you just have to investigate. I just did a blog on this at www.sportfightx.com. If you have a great team to train with I recommend getting a good management team. A good manager can get your name out, build your web presence, make you look your full potential even if you aren’t there yet. They can help you find sponsors and be the bad guy when you don’t know how (pushing for more money). The best managers are the ones that are always selling their fighters not ones who never return phone calls. They make life easy on you because they are workers and represent your best interest. The team at Sponsoredfan.com and SuckerPunchEnt.com are two that I get daily messages from selling their fighters to me and it’s no coincidence they are 70% of my card this Friday.
NextMMAFighter : As MMA is becoming very popular in the US, grassroots shows are definitely on the rise. Do you think this trend will continue?
SportfightX Soco : Sure. But this is a very, very tough game. I am happy that the Athletic Commission is stepping in to keep the events safe and police things because there are plenty of people looking to jump on and just make a quick buck. Sometimes this happens at the cost of safety and integrity of the sport itself. In my short amount of time, I’ve seen many people try and fail and lose lots of money chasing that quick buck. My advice for those interested in getting involved is finding someone with experience in promoting to guide you, or hire them to consult or to even put the entire show together. I am currently working with companies in other areas put on shows. It will save you the time, the stress and money you could otherwise lose very quickly.
NextMMAFighter : In regards to the Southeast where you do most of your promoting, what’s your assessment on the growth of MMA in this part of the country.
SportfightX Soco : MMA is growing fast everywhere, this region is no different. A new fight gym opens up every month and I see 13 year olds doing amazing things in BJJ tournaments like Lutador Grappling. And the women are getting better and better so there is an evolution in progress at all times. What we are working on is continuing the education of the average fan and giving them the drug of knowledge to hook them on the sport the way we are. They become junkies like me and you, get addicted and someone has to provide their fix, and our fix is the purest.
NextMMAFighter : After what will surely be an amazing show on Friday night, can you tell us about any plans you have for big fights in the next few months?
SportfightX Soco : Yeah man, we are definitely looking at doing another tournament. Bigger and better than this one. We will be bringing championships into the mix. And some super fights. And partnering our show with other big promotions and events to expand the awareness of the sport to other genre’s. We are not going to rely on the die hard fan alone, and let UFC do all the marketing and educating for our sport. We all know they are the kings, but I feel I have a responsibility of holding my own in the growth of the sport, not just tapping into the already existing fans which I very much appreciate and work hard to keep them involved. We also have our amateur series Sin City Fight Club getting back into the mix of things where we are going to be traveling to other regions.
NextMMAFighter : It’s going to be a great fight on Friday and we can’t wait, in closing is there anything else you would like to say to the fans?
SportfightX Soco : We appreciate your support and welcome your feedback at every opportunity. We are not perfect and can’t satisfy everyone, but we grow, become better with every show and with your input will continue to do so. Check out my blog at www.sportfightx.com where I am journaling my experiences as a fight promoter. Also follow me on twitter @SportFightXSoco for latest updates, I like to do contests and fun stuff on there for free tickets to our events and tell insider secrets that I probably shouldn’t. And if you can’t make it to the fight Friday, you can watch it on gofightlive.tv. Or catch the highlights on HDNET’S Inside MMA next Friday. Two guys, One cage, Ten Thousand Dollars…. Sparks are going to fly!