Ken Pavia was one of the most well-known agents in MMA (you have to be to name your company MMAgents, after all), until he decided to pack it up and head for new horizons. Less than two months ago, Pavia announced that he had sold MMAgents to another sports agency, and he would be joining a new company, Takedown Fight Media, in a new VP position. The Fight Nerd had a chance to speak with Ken about this career shift and how it would affect his staff, as well as just who is TKDN and what exactly are they planning on doing.
The Fight Nerd: It was recently announced that you had sold MMAagents and were coming on board with Takedown Fight Media in a new role. Tell us about what has gone down and what changes are in store for Ken Pavia?
Ken Pavia: There’ll be a couple of years of transitioning with the new ownership. Even though the company is sold I still have an active role, particularly in the booking of fighters with fights. More importantly I get time to spend in an endeavor I believe in, in the broadcast dissemination of MMA for Takedown.
The Fight Nerd: How hard of a decision was it for you to sell what you might call “your baby”, MMAagents?
Ken Pavia: I think the part I’ll miss the most is the personal relationships, that’s why I got into this. But I’ve come to find out through the transition that those have all stayed strong. I won’t miss the day to day minutia of management, but the new challenge I’m embarking on has made the transition a lot easier. I recognized the limitiations of what a boutique agency can do for fighters and transitioning to a larger entity made it a win for all.
The Fight Nerd: What is the transition like for your fighters & staff to transition as well?
Ken Pavia: Most of the staff have stayed with the company. For me it just means more hours working — if that’s humanly possible.
The Fight Nerd: Will you stay involved in working with any of your former clients or is this the end of the road for you in that line of work?
Ken Pavia: As I mentioned, I have couple of years of assisting with the transition and I don’t believe a lot of my clients will let me out. This is not the end of the road for Ken Pavia, this is just the beginning.
The Fight Nerd: According to the blog on their site, TKDN has been gobbling up tons of MMA promotions around the US and internationally. What are the plans of this company with all of those entities under one roof?
Ken Pavia: Technically we’re not gobbling up the entities themselves, we’re gobbling up the rights to broadcast the content. Our goal is to aggregate the content for the purposes of selling to large broadcasters world wide. Sometimes the sum is worth more than the parts and that’s certainly the case with Takedown and the promotions we’re working with — in fact, that’s our business model.
The Fight Nerd: Is TKDN going to be in competition against the UFC with what they are doing in anyway? That is, will the two ever cross paths down the line or are there any plans to work with Zuffa down the line?
Ken Pavia: I don’t believe we’re the same business model – their model is in live events and we’re aggregators of live content, we’re a very different. MMA is growing exponentially, there’s demand for both of our content.
The Fight Nerd: It would seem that with Bellator being bought by Viacom that they are in a prime position to finally become a top contender in MMA. How can Spike TV elevate Bellator to be considered one of the best places for a fighter to compete in?
Ken Pavia: Bellator will be on Spike for over a year. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and then and only time will tell how that partnership will play out. It good news for the sport that a major player like Viacom is showing a much larger commitment than just broadcasting the content. The fact that they’ve bought a stake in an MMA promotion shows just how seriously they’re taking the expansion of the sport.
The Fight Nerd: I know recently you went to Japan for some work, a country that has had a noticeable rapid decline in the popularity of MMA this year. Is there any hope to get MMA back to the level of excitement that it once had in Japan, and if so, what will it take?
Ken Pavia: 80% of revenue for major organizations is broadcast revenue. I believe it will take commitment from a Japanese broadcaster — much like Viacom and Bellator — to get Japanese MMA back where it was a year or so ago. I’ll also add, having attended the events, you would never know there was a decline in popularity. I’m not sure the popularity has waned in Japan, it might be more about the Western perception of the MMA market in Japan than a reflection of the appetite on the ground.
The Fight Nerd: Do you have any thoughts on the outlook for Strikeforce right now – will they still be around in 2012 or is their book about to close soon for good?
Ken Pavia: If you believe King Mo and some fighter sentiment its only a matter of time before they merge — I believe King Mo said ‘it’s dying on the vine.’ It seems that Zuffa bough Strikeforce to add more main event type fighters to their roster to support their increased scheduling. That said, if the rumors about Strikeforce and Showtime are true, that’ll be a certain way to secure its future. It’s interesting times as usual in MMA, especially on the Network side.
The Fight Nerd: Awhile back you and Bas Rutten had a war of words, can you fill us in on what happened and who fired the first shot?
Ken Pavia: I was watching Inside MMA and my client Dennis Hallman was a guest. Bas made a comment about Dennis testing positive for banned substances and I felt that was disrespectful towards our client. I pointed out that Baz himself had tested positive for banned substances in his last fight and he didn’t take too kindly to my revelations.
The Fight Nerd: Have you spoken directly with Bas since that incident?
Ken Pavia: We’ve exchanged a number of text messages back and forth. And I’m sure time will resolve it all.
The Fight Nerd: What is in store for Ken Pavia and TKDN in 2012?
Ken Pavia: You’ll see TKDN producing and disseminating upwards of 30 North American and International events and Ken Pavia will be an integral part of that process.