Saturday, March 31, 2007

Calvin Ayre Exclusive Interview

By Geschrieben von Tim Leidecker

"MMA is the next step in the evolution of combat sports!"

He started out ten years ago with a PC and 10,000$. Today he owns the biggest private online casino in the world! He is number 746 in the list of the World's Richest People and a shrewd businessman, who knows that it is impossible to succeed without the right kind of marketing. Now Calvin Ayre has set his sights on the world of MMA. Ground & Pound's Tim Leidecker spoke with the boss of bodogFIGHT about his plans with the promotion, the status of Fedor Emelianenko and his personal motivation.

Ground & Pound: Mr. Ayre, we greatly appreciate you giving us the opportunity to do the interview! How did you become involved in Mixed Martial Arts?
Calvin Ayre: Many people ask this question. Bodog is a leading digital entertainment company with a major interest in the sporting industry. As the Bodog brand continues to expand, we are constantly adapting the product channels to meet consumer demands and stay ahead of developments within the marketplace.

Through close analysis and quickly reacting to emerging trends, we are always able to ensure that our clients receive the most entertaining and exciting experience possible. I have been a supporter and fan of MMA for years and given the recent phenomenal growth within the sport, this was the perfect time to enter such an amazing industry. The level of response from our clients and the MMA community has been absolutely fantastic. We see this as a great opportunity to not only help support the sport's positive growth, but to also elevate the game to the next level in a way that only Entertainment could achieve.

GnP: How do you rate the chances of bodogFIGHT compared to promotions like EliteXC and the current top dog, the UFC?
CA: We are not seeking to go head-to-head with other organizations, rather we are focused on defining our role as a leader within the digital entertainment space. With Entertainment having such a diverse range of product channels, we are in a fantastic position based on the current landscape of the sport. BodogFIGHT can not really be compared to any other MMA entity as we are much more than just a fight promotion. We are an umbrella of properties including a music label, an online magazine, a gaming division and a TV production company which is producing incredible content for TV and broadband distribution.

GnP: Will there be a bodogFIGHT championship or are you satisfied with the current tournament/superfight style?
CA: Twelve months ago, bodogFIGHT was only a concept. Now we have completed the filming of four bodogFIGHT seasons and have a talented roster of fighters. As we proceed and continue to grow this roster, we will be creating weight classes and rankings with each division having its own crowned champion. Implementing these championship rankings is a natural next step in bodogFIGHT's evolution.

GnP: BodogFIGHT has acquired three vastly experienced partners in MFC, M-1 and Pancrase. Are there plans to hook up with any more (foreign) promoters?
CA: We've certainly enjoyed working with these groups you mentioned. We have also been working with entities such as Cage Raqe, K-1, Strike Force and Sportfight. We are always open to exploring new associations with partners who operate at the highest levels and are committed to the development and evolution of MMA. As more promotions begin working together, the landscape of the sport will continue to shift. This cooperation between MMA entities is providing new opportunities for fighters to showcase their talents on the world stage and will deliver incredible events to the fans.

GnP: How does the contract with Fedor Emelianenko look like? Is the fight against Matt Lindland on April 14th a one-time deal or do you have an option to book him again in the future, perhaps even outside of Russia?
CA: This was our first event working together and we are looking forward to expanding our relationship with Fedor and the Red Devil team, M-1 and the MFC well into the future. Both the M-1 and bodogFIGHT wanted to commit to an opportunity to provide fans worldwide this incredible event. The April 14th PPV marks one of MMA's first international collaborations as both sides are taking strides in evaluating the sports truly global landscape.

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