The great success of Ring of Fire owner and promoter Sven Bean was unplanned.
Bean started the organization in 2000 and went international in 2006. His Denver-based promotion has produced names like Brendan Schaub and Shane Carwin, and showcases high-level MMA events on a regular basis.
This weekend will feature ROF: 41 taking place at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo. Throughout Bean’s years of promoting he has noticed the differences in putting together a show.
“As far as the promotion goes, back in the day it was a little taboo and not as mainstream,” Bean explained to Hector Castro and Tim O’Connor on White Belt Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “It was harder to get sponsorships. As for the events, I think the fighters are a lot more athletic and the audience is more intelligent.”
As the fans and fighters improved, so did Bean’s sense of operating an MMA organization. He uses the fighters that compete under his banner to help build the Ring of Fire brand. While not everyone on his roster is UFC material, some almost certainly are.
That’s where Bean comes in.
“I know that we do a really good job of production value,” Bean said “We’re in one of the best MMA venues. UFC was here, but now they’re on to the bigger arenas. It’s a 7,000-seat arena. We try to give the fans just as good a show as you get from the UFC. I feel we do that.
“We have a great, young talent pool. The thing about guys coming up is that they’re labeled as B-level guys. I think some of them are A-level guys that just haven’t gotten the exposure yet.”
Bean has had success with his fighters going on to the UFC, Strikeforce and other big promotions. Experience has helped him yield those results.
“I fought myself, I trained, so I tell everybody that fights for me that you’re not going to get an easy fight,” Bean stated. “You’re going to get an evenly matched fight, but you’re not going to get a gimme. Every once in a while the one will crush the other, and it looks like that, (but) the reality is we’re all going to be old men someday and when you’re looking back at your life, I don’t want to be the one that goes ‘Oh, I fought that guy but he sucked.’ I would want to know as a fighter that I fought the toughest guys that were put in front of me, so I try to do that as a matchmaker.
“As a promoter, sure you have to promote the local guys. It’s kind of that high-school boost to your team and when you have a team that’s doing good, the whole town will travel around and follow them. It’s the same with the fighters. The main card is always a local guy against someone from somewhere else. That’s how the town gets behind them.”
Bean’s organization has been long respected among MMA fans in the know, evidence that ROF is no fly-by-night promotion looking for a quick buck. Bean’s goal was to help his buddies and give them a stage to display their skills.
After 11 years it looks like his pastime has paid off.
“When I started promoting it was like a professional hobby,” Bean explained. “I was doing it just to help some of the guys I trained with get a fight. Every once in a while I’d do a show, then maybe nine months later I’d do another. It wasn’t like it is now. I didn’t think it would turn into a career. But here we are now.
“That’s just 41 shows under Ring of Fire. I’ve also done a bunch of Battle Quest Series, K-1 USA. I mean I probably have 100 shows under my belt now.”
And looking forward to the next century’s worth of shows.