Taking a big bite out of the MMA promotional circuit is the Southern based Xtreme Fighting Championships. And president, John Prisco, says big things are on the way.
After all, the promotion did smash the previous Florida state attendance record, by over three fold, in just their first show in 2007. And after welcoming 13,000 fans into the St. Pete Times Arena, in Tampa, it’s safe to say the XFC started out on the right track.
Since, the promotion has had nine events in its staple state of Florida, promoted the very first MMA event in Tennessee and even ventured across the Atlantic to Kyrenia, Cyprus.’
Getting to this point after putting on 13 events was no easy feat.
“I didn’t do it the conventional way,” Prisco told White Belt Radio. “The way that we went about doing it, we went to a very big venue, we knew we had a great product right out of the box it was going to be very entertaining with a lot of very good fighters and we were going to match them up really tough. We pretty much gave the house away.”
Prisco said it was all about affective promoting and proper use of public relations. He said he took a gamble, spent money on public relations and from the start aimed to break the Florida attendance record that was previously 3,500. It paid off and got him some added attention.
“We promoted really hard and went to the best venue around and we put in attendance 13,500 people. We heard the next day that the UFC contacted the venue and asked, ‘who the hell is XFC?’” said Prisco. “Than Mark Cuban got wind of us and than for the next four or five shows, they came to our events to film the highlights for Inside MMA. We than slowly transitioned the ticket pricing to our business model. Because Mark Cuban filmed the four or five fights, he saw the consistency of the crowds, fantastic fights, and they loved it and said come on board guys.t
“So we secured a national TV deal and because of the TV deal we were able to bring on advertisers and sponsorship and that subsidized the box office so we were no longer upside down doing shows. That’s the formula if you want to make it in this industry, if not, you’ll be treading water until you drown.”
Most organization’s trying to share the space in the pool are considered “feeders” to the bigger shows that control the deep end. When a promotion gets close to the deep end, there have been tendencies for the Zuffa umbrella to encompass those organizations along with their fighters.That’s not Prisco’s plan.
“We plan on keeping these fighters, many of them, within the organization,” he said. “Up to now, we couldn’t offer them what the UFC could offer them, but that’s changing. We look at this sport as being 20 years old and the most talented fighters are undiscovered. Ten years ago, you couldn’t find an MMA school, now there is one on every block. We plan on developing our own talent not really to be a feeder organization into the UFC and to build our own brand that way.”
Prisco says open fighter tryouts have been pinnacle in the success of the XFC. It gives younger fighters the chance to fight on bigger stages and get experience to help further their careers. Holding tryouts yearly around the country helps ensure that the XFC has a fresh roster of ripe talent.
“For the turnout, we get about 150 fighters show up. They’re very talented fighters and many of them even fly out to the location,” Prisco said. “We’ll spend sometimes all weekend – depending on the amount of people there – and really put them through their paces and we see every aspect of their game. So when we’re done with the tryout and we have our winner that gets the contract, we know that we have a very good, well rounded fighter that we want to promote.”
The XFC also have expanded their branding to including a school where fighters can go and tryout. The XFC is getting ahead of the game by adding schools early in the life of the promotion to help keep the fighters afloat and well conditioned, providing what ever the fighters need to advance their game.
“We have a 9000 square foot school in Brandon, Fla., just outside of Tampa,” said Prisco. “We’ve done XFC open fighter tryouts there it’s a great place for us to evaluate talent. If we think he is a top prospect, we’ll have them spend a week and really go through his game and see where his strengths and weaknesses are and if we want to take a chance and sign this kid. If we do sign him, we’ll let him know based from what we’ve seen where we feel that he needs some work and we’ll help him get the people he needs to get the proper training. So just because you don’t have the proper training where you’re from we can help in that regard and make that happen. We work with the fighter and our training facility has helped us in that regard.”
Apart from the new TV deal that has been signed with HDNet, Prisco hopes to complete a deal with a “major fitness chain” that will put more XFC schools throughout the nation. He says big things are to come.
“We’ve just brought on some prominent partners you’ll be hearing about. We’re making our move right now,” said an excited Prisco. “Keep an eye out for the XFC.”
The XFC’s next event will be held October 21 at the UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla.