First to get back to me was Scott Cutbirth, matchmaker for the Resurrection Fighting Alliance, former home of UFC stars James Krause, Tim Elliot and Brandon Thatch and current stomping ground of rising star Sergio Pettis amongst others.
RFA has become one of the most compelling promotions in the States, providing quality cards loaded with up & comers, sprinkled through with some better known names and has the stated aim of developing talent capable of thriving in the deeper waters of the UFC.
Such perspective seems to be rare in MMA and we were very interested to hear Scott’s responses…
1. How did you become a matchmaker?
Wayne Harriman, who started the RFA, is based in Las Vegas and has excellent connections but none in the Midwest. Knowing that the first few shows would be in the Midwest, he asked a fighter who was training in his gym from the Midwest (Tyler Perry) if he knew anyone. Next thing I know, Wayne calls me and asks if I can fly to Vegas and meet with him the next day. We sat in his office the entire day and planned the first show.
2. What do you consider the biggest challenge of matchmaking?
I’d say the biggest challenge is being prepared for the last minute back out. I try to formulate backup options to every fight. Every fight I make is made with future implications, if this fighter wins, I want to make this fight next. Sometimes you have to change all that to make something work last minute.
3. What makes good matchmaking in your eyes?
Understanding how a fighter reacts to what another fighter offers. Knowing their mental makeup, being a fan, fans want excitement and action. And most importantly, never making a fight you honestly don’t believe is 50/50. Its not just about making fights, its about making something you can enjoy.
4. Which fight card that you’ve booked are you most proud of?
RFA 9 on August 16th in LA honestly is shaping up to be the most competitive from top to bottom. Not one fight on that card can I sit here and say I think so and so is a favorite. So Im most proud of the next one I do, if I’m not, that means I’m not trying to improve on the time before. I always want to do better.
5. If you could book one fight, from the whole history of MMA, taking away money, managers, injuries and having a handy time machine… what would it be?
I think the traditional fan would always point to some sort of super fight, but for me I cant look at the past…so I look at the here and now. I look at a guy like Cub Swanson, who is innovative, not afraid to try things and is always looking to finish against Frankie Edgar in a 5 round fight. Frankie has a wrestling background to take it to the ground but I don’t suspect he would. You will see two guys bring it non stop for 25 mins with some flash, some heated exchanges, some great scrambles. To me, that is a fight that will have the fans on their feet the whole fight and will see two guys walking away with $50,000 FOTN bonuses.
6. RFA have the stated mission of being a bridge between the regional scene and the UFC, do you specifically book talent like Sergio Pettis or James Krause with an eye on preparing them for the big shows?
Prepare was the key word in that. This sport is evolving everyday, the thought process of “lets just get to 6,7,8-0 and get to the UFC” is dumb. Any manager that says, ‘don’t take that fight, its too risky, your too close to the UFC, lets get an easier fight’ should be fired on the spot.
Do you want to get to the UFC or do you want to get to the UFC and stay there? I feel what we do is not only offer a platform for these guys to get noticed, we prepare them to be successful when they get there. We are giving them the experience of a high level production, interviews, cameras, etc. But we are giving them that pressure of solid fights, making them mentally strong. The strong will survive. Look at guys like Tim Elliott and James Krause, those guys in their last two fights in the UFC have garnered 2 FOTN awards and 1 SOTN award. They went in and performed, they weren’t having first fight on the big stage jitters and I don’t expect Brandon Thatch will either.
We’d like to thanks Scott for getting back to us with such candid response, and we implore you to check out the upcoming RFA 9 show from the StubHub Centre in Los Angeles on 16th August, broadcast live on AXS TV in the States which features a main event pitting the undefeated pair of Keoni Koch and Pedro Munhoz facing off.