MiddleEasy: First off, can you tell us about your numerous positions in the MMA world?
Ken Pavia: When I sold my previous company MMA Agents I had a vision of lying on a secluded beach for a few years and turning my phone off, but when the announcement hit numerous opportunities were brought to me – a few of which were too good to pass up and I’m very lucky to have a dedicated team capable of taking advantage and maximising these opportunities. I first took the job as VP Business Development for Takedown (TKDN) a publicly traded company – my role with TKDN is to aggregate MMA content for re-broadcast – and I utilised my network of promoters who I really enjoyed working with. I then took a position as the CEO of the Super Fight League (SFL) in India, which will soon be the pre-eminent MMA Organisation of the region. The Indian team is without equal in the industry I believe, and if you miss Pride you have to check out our show.
ME: How exactly did you get involved with Super Fight League?
KP: Raj Kundra who’s quite the celebrity in India and is a serial entrepreneur took a trip to Beverly Hills and asked for a meeting. There was immediate chemistry and we felt our synergies could create something incredible and thus was born the Super Fight League.
ME: Has your work as an agent had an effect on how you operate as a CEO?
KP: I think 20 years as a sports agent and 8 in the MMA space has helped me cultivate deep rooted relationships that have prepared me for this opportunity. Ultimately I rely on those relationships for the success of the business. It was invaluable experience and 8 years didn’t happen over night.
ME: Realistically, how big a crowd are you expecting for your first event?
KP: Our first event is going to be held in a 5,000 seat venue and we will sell out. We’re going for a smaller venue in the first show, our second and third are in 12,000 plus seat venues and we’ll hopefully sell those out too.
ME: The YouTube deal: does this mean that all fights from Super Fight League will be free or do YouTube have a PPV model in mind?
KP: Presently the model is that all of the fights will be available online for free. There is no PPV model in place at this time so everyone can enjoy it worldwide.
ME: Ok, so break down the format of Super Fight League as a whole. Is this a league proper or just in name?
KP: It’s a league in name – it’s a fight organisation by American standards but by virtue of translation it’s more of a league in Indian standards. We know it as an organisation though.
ME: The format of the events looks different to that which Western audiences are used to; something you call ‘sportertainment’. What exactly does this mean?
KP: The Indian audience has never experienced MMA so we’re giving them a reason to come to the event. There will be music and chart topping Bollywood acts performing on the night and all our adverts say ‘come for the concerts, stay for the fights’. Our goal is to develop a solid following that will come for the fights.
ME: Would SFL consider things like the ONE FC network in order for Indian MMA fighters to gain more exposure?
KP: We have established training facilities in India specifically to develop Indian talent. There has not been a domestic opportunity for the advancement of Indians in MMA so far, many of their athletes have chosen different paths. The SFL is committed to developing home grown Indian MMA talent.
ME: We have ONE FC based in Singapore, Road FC in Korea, Legend FC in China, DARE in Thailand and now SFL in India all looking like they will have a big 2012. In your opinion, what will hold Asian MMA back this year, and what can be done to improve the chances of success?
KP: I think there are a lot of promotions thriving in Asia and competition is healthy – the more MMA that is available to the consumer the more popular the sport will become. I’ve already had dialogue with One FC and they share my sentiment that it’s important for us to work together to advance the sport. I think the sky’s the limit. I rarely agree with Dana White but I do agree with what he said; that we are only scratching the surface for the potential of MMA – worldwide – not only in Asia.
ME: With the controversy which constantly circles around Indian cricket, people may assume that regulations in MMA will be lax, or fights will be ‘worked’. Can you talk about how regulation of MMA is going to work in India?
KP: Presently we’re working very closely with the Indian government to establish national commissions. We’re utilising time tested rules that exist in other jurisdictions and we know the importance of government regulation for this industry.
ME: As a former agent, what do you make of the Overeem/Golden Glory situation?
KP: I don’t know enough of the facts to have an intelligent respose to that – I only know what I read and I know that what you read isn’t always the right interpretation.
ME: What do you think about the possibility of Zuffa bringing The Ultimate Fighter to India in the near future?
KP: I think anything that educates the Indian crowd about the sport and the rules and regulations will be a good thing. I’m not opposed to a TV show that shows Indians what MMA is all about.
ME: You got an ‘FU’ from Lorenzo Fertitta on Twitter. How does that make you feel?
KP: I’m not in a popularity contest. I have a job to do and I’m focused on that. I have thick skin and I’ve never been focused on what others think of me to do my job.
ME: Ok, last question and back to Super Fight League. You have James Thompson and Bob Sapp lined up for your first event and you have six more events planned. Do you have any exclusives for the Middle Easy readers as to who may be headlining future SFL cards? If not, I’d like to suggest Minowaman.
KP: Minowaman is someone we’d definitely look at- he’s very popular in the Asian markets. We’re going to be making a series of announcements in the very near future – there will be 3 international fights and 5 fights feat Indians on the next cards and once the ink dries on the contracts we’ll be announcing the names.
ME: Thanks for your time Ken, and all the best for Super Fight League.
KP: It’s always a pleasure and I appreciate the coverage and Middle Easy is actually one of the sites I read regularly, I really enjoyed the Baroni paint balling feature.