As MMA continually pushes into the mainstream, more and more organizations are looking to maximize their exposure.
The UFC changed the game completely after selling for $4 billion. Not only that, but just recently it was revealed that at least 23 celebrities, mostly managed by WME-IMG, have invested in the company as well.
In an effort to become the premier developmental league, it looks like Alliance MMA is trying to make their own buzz by going public.
"There's no other way to invest in MMA other than through our venture," said Alliance MMA Chairman and CEO Paul Danner to CNN.
Alliance MMA is result of a merger between many different fight promotions (Cage Fury FC, Combat Games MMA, Hoosier Fight Club, Shogun Fights, and V3 Fights) and their shares open today at $4.50 a piece. Alliance MMA will look to generate their revenue through the estimated 125 events they will put on, their sponsors, and newly-acquired video production company GoFightLive. They have also acquired CageTix.com in order to gain analytics to better help their company and investors pinpoint demographics.
"Now we can tell promoters 'Look, we value your private company and will give you cash and stock in ours,'" Danner said. "There's less loss of power for them and more involvement."
While this is big news in the regional circuit, Alliance MMA is not the first MMA organization to go public.
International Fight League
Back in 2006, the International Fight League was not only the first team-based professional MMA league, but the first to be traded as a public company. It was a landmark day for fight sports in general. The mission back then, was the same as the mission today.
"As a publicly traded sports entity, the IFL will be able to help the sport grow beyond its current boundaries and move into the mainstream with both fans and business partners. MMA has seen some significant growth in the last few years ... and we expect our model to add to that success in this new expanded international sports marketplace," said then IFL CEO Gareb Shamus in a press release.
With team-on-team fights led by Renzo Gracie, Matt Lindland, Bas Rutten, Pat Miletich, Ken Shamrock, and Frank Shamrock (as well as many others), there was nothing like the IFL. Unfortunately, despite a FOX deal and investments from others, IFL was out of business by July 31, 2008.
EliteXC also put their shares and assets up for public auction, including the contract of Kimbo Slice.
Once again, EliteXC was wanting to take advantage of the growing interest in MMA to make a profit. Showtime joined with ProElite and launched EliteXC to become an alternative to the UFC. However, Showtime would eventually have to use the selling of public shares to recoup their $5 million investment in the company after ProElite lost $24.3 million over the six months due to operation costs.
Money trouble, coupled with the upset knockout of their main attraction Kimbo Slice, would cause EliteXC to close October 20, 2008.
Kimbo Slice's fight with James Thompson—which was the main event of the EliteXC on CBS broadcast—still holds the MMA viewership record in the U.S. at 7.3 million viewers.