First brought in to the national spotlight as the host of the 2007 martial arts History Channel series The Human Weapon, Jason Chambers has worn most of the hats available in the MMA industry. The former fighter, Bellator commentator, and Shine Fights COO has recently added another notch to his belt, founding Apex Sports Agency: a representative agency focusing on mixed martial artists.
While he’s seen many sides of MMA, Chambers said it was a common thread in all of his experience that led him to start Apex.
“Firstly the industry timing to help better service the athletes out there,” Chambers said. “I have been involved in this sport in several capacities over the past 15 years and I hated Mixed Martial Artist[s] being treated as second class athletes.”
Chambers continued to explain that the original business plan was to create a new division within a more established agency. But, ultimately that deal might not be best for the athletes he would be representing.
“I met with a few of the big talent agencies in LA that also represent NFL, NBA, MLB, etc in an effort to get them enrolled in the process of building and guiding these future stars,” Chambers went on. “I had offers from [three] of the top [five agencies] to come in an start an alternative sports division. But, after reflecting on this for a bit, I decided it wouldn’t be the right fit. My fear was that these large [agencies] , while having then right systems in place to build talent, would not be ‘in it for the long run.’ They are very bottom line driven. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I didn’t want to leverage my personal and business relationships to build a division that would get cut after 15 months if it was not making 10 million a year profit. It was going to take time to do it the right was.”
Chambers has a big vision for Apex: one that starts with MMA athletes and slowly goes to cover all alternative or “extreme” sports. While there are no artificial limits on the growth of the company, Chambers expressed a strong desire to stay realistic and stick to a sustainable business plan.
“We cannot come onto the scene and have 20 UFC clients in [two] months,” said Chambers. “If you do, you are either poaching or lying to clients. Neither represents the values I want our company to uphold. Right now we have a mix of a few former UFC vets, current UFC fighters and guys that are on the cusp of being there. One of the many things that separates us from the average agency/management company is the amount of talent we turn away. It boggles my mind why someone would want to be the 50th or 60th client on a list, with 14 other guys in your weight class. How can a manager/agent really service that guy who isn’t the [number one] client? ”
Before starting Apex, Chambers was brought in as the COO of Florida based MMA promotion Shine Fights as the man to clean up the organization’s public image after the well-publicized debacle that was Din Thomas versus Ricardo Mayorga. Among the undertakings that happened in Shine under Chambers’ tenure was a lightweight Grand Prix tournament, which presented a number of logistical challenges.
Whether or not the Grand Prix format is still something that can be done successfully in mixed martial arts, Chambers maintains that the idea will always have appeal.
“Practical place or not,I love them,” Chambers said of same-day tournaments. “I also think there are a ton of fans and fighters that do as well. Our sport was built on one night tournaments. I agree, to a large extent, that the sport and its athletes have evolved past this era, but there is something innately ‘cool’ about a warrior fighting [three] times in one night. You have to offer something different in order to be a draw.”
Chambers became known to MMA fans at large with the History Channel series The Human Weapon, which premiered in 2007. Four years later, Chambers is still happy to talk about his experience on the show.
“My favorite place that we visited was Greece,” said Chambers. “I am a big history and antiquities buff and there are few places on earth that can speak to those callings like Greece. The art I was most surprised by was Krav Maga. It is very near my background in JKD. It is realistic, practical and easy to adapt to for nearly anyone. I also enjoyed the MMA and McMap episodes. It was great to be able to shoot in the US for a few weeks.”
A competitive martial artist with many years of experience, Chambers also had some stranger moments on the show.
“There were definitely times when i wanted to explore the ‘real’ aspect of the technique,” Chambers continued. “I never liked that fact that every technique we learned had to be a ‘lethal, deadly, killing technique.’ Some of them were great, some I wanted to hang my head. I would never want to offend anyone that practiced those arts, but some are more practical for self defense than others.”
Currently, Chambers is balancing his new business with the more serious business of raising twin children, Declan and Danica, that will have their first birthday later this month. While the MMA business is normally a highly mobile affair, Chambers has been trying to limit his travel because he “miss[es] them terribly” while he is away.
As for whether or not the kids will follow in their father’s footsteps, Chambers is trying to keep their options open.
“I would love for them to be involved in the Martial Arts, but I have to let them chose their own paths,” said Chambers. “Naturally there is a part of me that would take a great deal of pride in watching my son compete but only if that’s what he wants. I believe kids should be exposed to as many opportunities as possible and let their creative side draw them to what fits.”