Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Around the Pro Circuit: The return of Cage Fury Fighting Championships, Q & A with CFFC president Rob Haydak

Don't call it a comeback.

Cage Fury Fighting Championships blazed on the scene in 2006, producing five explosive events spanning 2006 and 2007. Their fifth show, "Two Worlds, One Cage" introduced popular street fighter-turned-mixed martial artist Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson to the mixed martial arts cage against former WBO heavyweight boxing champion Ray Mercer. The promotion also helped foster the careers of the "Miller Brothers" Dan and Jim who now fight in the UFC.

After a successful two year run, the CFFC took a near five year long hiatus. The New Jersey-based promotion recently returned to its home, Atlantic City, New Jersey, to present CFFC 6: "The Return" earlier this month. Now under the leadership of new CFFC president Rob Haydak, the Cage Fury Fighting Championships re-enters the fight game reinvigorated, motivated, and ready to take the game by storm.

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a question-and-answer session with Mr. Haydak. We discussed his involvment in MMA and CFFC's outlook for the future.

Interview with Rob Haydak, president of Cage Fury Fighting Championships:

How did you get started in the MMA business?

I was contacted by Felix Martinez a few years ago. At that time, he was the CFFC President and asked if I would be interested in helping with the Kimbo/Mercer fight in Atlantic City. I volunteered and assisted with marketing efforts in the NY, NJ and PA markets. At that time, that event was one of the largest MMA attended events on the East Coast.

What is your background in MMA/combat sports?

I have been involved with wrestling since I was seven years-old. I wrestled at Wagner College in NY, a Division 1 program. I have a black belt in GoJu and also competed in amateur kickboxing several years back.

How did you get involved with CFFC?

Immediately after the Kimbo versus Mercer event, I expressed an interest to Felix that I wanted to be more involved with CFFC. I was thinking along the lines of having an ownership stake. The talks never materialized and CFFC ultimately made the decision to stop promoting MMA shows.

About a year ago, I once again reached out to Felix and told him I wanted to bring CFFC back, but with just the name. Felix expressed that he was only interested in a consulting role, if any. I decided this was my opportunity and I worked with my attorney to secure the deal. The next step was to find a home for CFFC. My business model only worked if I had a permanent home and a commitment for at least 8 shows. In the back of my mind, I wanted that home to be at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. I was blessed when the deal came to fruition.

What is the outlook for CFFC given the current economic recession?

I am acutely aware of the devastating affects this recession is having on businesses and individuals. Disposable income is not what it used to be. That being said, I am still focused on putting on the best MMA show on the East Coast. We will keep our ticket prices affordable and the level of our fighters will be top notch.

Will the CFFC be acknowledging its past titleholders, or will new title contention pairings be made?

Our matchmaker is working hard to reach out to all of the past CFFC champions. We would love to have them all come back and fight for us again.

The CFFC has a legacy of successful fighters behind it (ie. Miller brothers). Who are some of the up-and-coming fighters that we should look out for from the CFFC?

Victor O'Donnell. Nah Shon Burrell. Mike Winters. Tim Williams. Then there are battle tested guys like Andre Gusmao and Eddie Fyvie who are already recognized on the national scene. We will be announcing some other phenomenal fighters in the upcoming weeks that already are well known throughout the MMA industry.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rob for mentioning my Son and having him on your card. You have a really great organization.

    Mike Winters' first martial arts victory was 10 years ago at a dojo here in upstate for karate sparring. He was 12 years old and took first plase in an adult division. Days later, the guy who took third told me he went to the doctors because he broke his ribs. I asked if he kicked him. He said no with his fist.
    Mike and I did jiu jitsu for years afterwards and he also wrestled for 6 in school until he started mma for Bombsquad. They have an awesome program there and he tells me alot about how much he has learned there under Ryan.
    ..and there you have a brief on Mike's history.

    - Dan