When you sit down to talk MMA with Shine Fights Matchmaker Ron Foster, you get a compelling feeling. You're speaking with someone who knows this sport. You're talking to someone who is an advocate for the sport, the fighter, and the fan.
Ron Foster took a moment to speak with me recently regarding many aspects of the fight game. Ranging from bare knuckle pioneers like Arturo Lievano , to American Top Team, to Karo Parisyan, and much more.
Foster and Shine Fights are hard at work to bring a world class approach to this sport. Their philosophies are refreshing and encouraging in a time that displays a sort of transitional period within the sport.
Probably one of the most compelling discussions we had was about an underground legend in the Florida area. He was using his street fighting and martial arts experience in the early days of the UFC to train fighters.
His knowledge gained in true underground fighting forums laid the groundwork for many early UFC fighters. His name is Arturo Lievano known as "Apache."
"Apache was a guy from long ago. He was around during the first UFC one and UFC two training some of those guys back then. Hes a very inspirational guy."
"He came from not having a whole lot and really working hard to get to where he is. And now the guy is a legend in the underground sport of MMA down in Florida."
"You know people see the Kimbo thing now, and they think wow, this guy is a great street fighter, but Apache was one of those guys from way back in the day that started that stuff a long time ago."
"Well before Kimbo, well before the Internet was putting that stuff out, Apache was one of the originators of that underground bare knuckle fighting."
"When the UFC came around, he was actually training fighters to prepare to fight for the UFC. That's how long hes been in the game. And a lot of people don't know that."
"We felt as an organization that is was something that people needed to know and see. And if you talk to people, or you talk to Kimbo, and ask them who is Apache, and they all will tell you who he is."
Another interesting moment was spent talking about the support of world class gyms like American Top Team who supported a young promotion like Shine. For a gym to trust their fighters to run an organization speaks volumes, or in some cases not doing so makes a statement as well.
"We've got a great relationship with those guys. They really helped us out a lot down here in Florida. It's not just American top team, we've got good relationships with Hit Squad, Matt Hughes, and those guys. We've got a great relationship."
"It's more so the people that believed in us in the very beginning. I can tell you, when we first sat down and started mapping this thing out and saying hey we want to make this happen, you would be surprised at how many doors got shut in my face when I was calling gyms or reaching out to people to get fighters on the card."
"People were extremely rude to us. I can understand to an extent, because we didn't have a product and people didn't know who we were, but at the same time you just never know who you're stepping on until you're on you're way down and they are passing you going up."
"There were a couple of gyms that were receptive and very helpful to us. And really from the very beginning American Top Team opened up their doors to us and they were very helpful."
"It's just kind of one of those things, you really appreciate the people that believed in you and gave you an opportunity from the start."
Shine Fights has been making some big splashes with their signings as of late. The biggest fish would probably be Murillo "Ninja" Rua, and of course boxing super star Ricardo Mayorga. When asked about the potential of their interest in recent UFC cut Karo Parysian, Foster was motivated by the idea.
"Oh definitely. One thing I look at is not just what they're doing now but their potential down the line. I think Karo Parisyan is a tremendous fighter. He had his couple issues, he made some mistakes but we can never forget his wars with Diego Sanchez, Nick Diaz, and GSP that he had in the UFC."
"This guy was a star. He was supposed to fight for the title a couple times and things happened and he ended up not being able to fight. This guy could have potentially been the UFC champion."
When discussing his roster, Ron was very quick to point out how much he believes in all of his talent. He did mention a few names that get his blood pumping though.
"I'll tell you a couple I'm looking forward to seeing fight, obviously Murilo 'Ninja' Rua, he's world renowned, everyone knows who 'Ninja' is. Hes' a great fighter, he had some great wars, with Dan Henderson, 'Rampage,' all of those guys the list goes on."
"I'll tell you what, one of the guys I'm looking most forward to seeing is 'Cacareco' (Alexander Ferreira). Alex is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter coming out of Brazil. He has got 18 wins six losses. 17 of those 18 wins were by submission. His last seven fights total lasted, seven minutes."
"He's a guy, people know who he is in the underground, people in the MMA world know who he is, but he hasn't had the opportunity to fight big time. This guy is a monster and the people in the U.S. don't really know who he is. So I'm really excited to bring him out here and put him up against a well renowned U.S. fighter and see how he does."
"Another guy I'm really looking forward to is Luis Acevedo. He's fought in Pride a bunch of times, he actually holds a win over Anderson Silva and Paul Daley who are fighting 185 and 170 respectively and he's at 155. A very exciting Muay Thai guy, actually competed in Abu Dhabi this year and submitted Mike Fowler."
"These are guys that the U.S. market do not really know a whole lot about, but when they start to see these guys fight and go back and look at the history of these guys, they're going to be like wow this guy fought some really tough guys and was successful. I like to bring something new to the table."
"No disrespect to any of the MMA fighters, or none of the other organizations but you know if I have to watch the same guys fight three or four times, unless its really competitive, you know one and one or something like that, to me it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. I'm trying to bring something new to the U.S. market."
With all that in mind, this is what Foster had to say regarding not only the aspirations of the brand but the recognition of challenges ahead and the solution to those challenges.
"We're young and we've just got some good ideas and with what we bring to the table, people are going to enjoy it. The hardest part is getting people to trust a brand, because it is so new, and you've got Affliction, Elite XC, The IFL, they didn't survive."
"Anytime you see an new organization pop up there is a fear in every one's mind, are these guys going to be here today and gone tomorrow. But we have a good business plan, and I think what were doing is building a solid foundation, I think were going to be here for a long time."
So there you have it fight fans. The man behind the fights at Shine Fight Promotions. A great guy to talk up the game with representing a fresh new angle in professional MMA.
Keep your eyes peeled for this promotion, it is not your run of the mill gig. These guys at Shine are planning big things, as the sport reaches the peak of its potential. Shine intends on riding that wave, and making some waves of their own.