Human combat has at times been tamed. There have been periods of censorship. But one thing remains true: human beings cannot get enough bloodshed. And while team sports have come and gone, exiting the stage of history as quickly as they arrived, the fierce rivalry of person vs. person competition spans the ages. From the early Greeks, to the Roman gladiatorial competitions to the modern day phenomenon of mixed martial arts fighting (known as MMA), physical conflict is a part of who we are, for better or worse.
While knocking the living daylights out of an opponent is the job of the fighter, keeping a semi-presentable and clean image is the bread and butter of any good promoter. Warring against unnecessary attention and making sure that the sanctioning bodies agree to various competitions is not just a way to ensure each fighter’s safety, it’s also an attempt to lend more credibility to your enterprise, both in your circle and in the eyes of the public.
Mark Gonzalez is the force behind OneWorld MMA, a promotions company aligned with bringing greater attention to MMA events in the greater metropolitan DC area. His career as a promoter started while working in the DC entertainment industry at the age of 17.
“The crossover wasn’t much different,” explains Gonzalez, who started in the nightlife industry.
When he resigned from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center back in 2005, he started consulting his own clients on their shows, which rounded the spectrum from concerts, meetings, to sporting events. Gonzalez at the time was also training at DC Aikido and Capital MMA & Elite Fitness.
“Having done karate in South Texas as a kid, MMA was something I was eager to get back into my life.”
When Gonzalez was hit in a head-on collision with an SUV in 2008 driving his motorcycle, he sidelined his plans, and after a recovery period, he decided to use his already-tested talents as a promoter. He’s been going strong ever since.
MMA is a relative newcomer to the area. Having only been legal in DC for the past three years, there is still a lot of “learning the ropes,” – or “cage” for that matter. Gonzalez does his share of politicking. There are phone calls and meetings. Travel plays a large role. And then there’s scouting for new fighters. All of this however, is an effort to latch onto what most of the country is confirming as the fan base for this sport continues to balloon: MMA is here to stay.
“One of the main reasons OneWorld MMA was formed was to assist in putting MMA in its own division at the Olympic Games, and being in quite possibly the most powerful city in the world, it’s a good place to start for us.”
Aside from such lofty goals, the business in DC couldn’t be better. And despite coverage from most of the newspaper giants in the DC area, Gonzalez says the greater DC area has been nothing less than “responsive.”
“Gearing up for the Pro MMA events tentatively scheduled has been the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission’s focal point by traveling across the country to participate in seminars and conferences specific to MMA.”
The partnership and positive support has netted some winning situations for OneWorld MMA. This year alone, the promotions company is expected to host five amateur MMA and Muay Thai events, with the first on March 26, 2011 at Fur Nightclub in DC. Gonzalez is also behind three professional fighter seminars coming to the area and two professional MMA shows.
Of course, the draw of any show has to be the level of competition and the quality of the fighters. It’s something that Gonzalez is candid about.
“It has been a challenging task to thin out the actual fighters from the fight enthusiasts that should stay in the audience,” he said. “DC does have some serious talent though.”
Though names like Diego Peciat, Andre Adams, Vaja Ioramashvili, or Mark Bergenholtz may not roll off the tongue as naturally as more well-known professional stars like Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, or Anderson Silva, Gonzalez is confident that DC can be a place where the next generation of MMA fighters is being groomed for even larger venues.
Getting the sponsors however is the lifeblood of any entertainment industry. Fortunately, Gonzalez said their financial self-sustainability has allowed them to “hold out” until they find the right fit. Being a smart businessman has allowed OneWorld MMA to grow at its own pace without outpacing interest in DC. Of course, the place where there is never a shortage of interest remains with the fresh faced guy who won a few fights in high school and thinks he’s ready to take his skills to the mat. But Gonzalez, who lives around fighters of all stripes and talent, cautions about choosing this path.
“There are many people that assume because they’ve been in street brawls or trained here and there from time to time, that they can step into a cage,” said Gonzalez. “Amateurs drop out from being scared, getting injured, not coming in anywhere close to weight, or simply don’t feel like fighting that day, and those are the guys we don’t want. If [a fight camp] feels like you’re able to fight, they’ll be the ones to tell you.”
When it comes to actually stepping into the ring, Gonzalez said there’s another set of rules that should govern the fighter’s decision.
“I would think twice, maybe three times before committing to an officially sanctioned event.”
With the crowds building, Gonzalez thinks the outlook for DC MMA events is hopeful.
“Over the next two years, our goal is to make Washington, DC a stop for professionals on the pro MMA circuit, while molding and preparing amateur fighters from the mid-Atlantic region. Towards the end of this year, we’re looking to be broadcasting fights online and in designated market areas for television.”
OneWorld MMA presents: DC Max5 – The Legacy Fight Series
March 26, 2011; Early ticket sales available at: dcmax5.eventbrite.com
Fur Nightclub - www.furnightclub.com, 202.842.3401. 33 Patterson Street NE; Washington, DC 20002 | Florida Ave & New York Ave Red Line.
For more information contact:Mark Gonzalez, email@example.com