I was lucky enough to have an interview with Chad Bergmeier recently. Chad is a very successful mma manager and promoter. Chad has been around since 1997 and he has promoted over 120 shows and he manages around 40 fighters, some of which are; John Halverson, who will be fighting Roger Huerta this saturday at UFC 67. Clay French, who recently won the KOTC championship from Mac Danzig, Danzig will be fighting Hayato Sakurai at PRIDE “The Second Coming” on Feb. 24th. Joe Pearson, who recently lost a fight for the WEC featherweight champioship against Urijah Faber. And also Travis Fulton and Joe Jordan, just to name a few. Chad works alongside Monte Cox, and together they form one of the most successful management teams in MMA today.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to manage fighters, promote events, or perhaps you would like to start a career yourself, or maybe you are a young up and coming fighter looking for some advice, well then this is definitely the interview for you.
MMAlowdown: Thank you very much for taking the time out to do this interview for all of us. There are a lot of people who would like to get into MMA, whether they want to fight, manage or promote, and they don’t know how to go about it. You have had a ton of success through your career so we can really learn a lot from you. I would like to start out by asking what exactly does your job entail?
Chad: First off I just wanted to thank you for thinking as highly of me as you do to arrange this interview. Everything that’s involved with promoting a show is what I do…To start with: finding a venue, matchmaking, to advertising and everything in between…That is what my job is for promoting and for managing the whole process from helping secure sponsors to researching the match-ups that are offered to my fighters and negotiating the purse and all other details.
MMAlowdown: What are all the responsibilities that come along with managing a fighter?
Chad: Finding shows for them to fight in, keeping them as active as they want to be…Making sure that the pay is fair for the fight offered to us…Making the accommodations from start to finish, dealing with contracts and medicals and working on sponsors…
MMAlowdown: Do you have to put the money up for everything until the fighter gets the purse? I mean like travel, lodging, all the accomodations they need.
Chad: No, normally that is worked out in the deal that the fighter will get the travel and hotel paid for by the promoter.
MMAlowdown: How many fighters do you currently represent, and who are some of them?
Chad: Well, as of today I have 39 fighters that I manage.
Travis Fulton UFC vet
Tyrone Roberts UFC vet
Joe Jordan UFC vet
John Halverson UFC vet(as of Feb 3)
Clay French Pride vet and KOTC world champ
Joe Pearson Pride and WEC vet
Jason Reinhardt (was going to fight in UFC in Sept but got injured)
and several others that are on their way to big things too…. midwestfights.com for the complete list.
MMAlowdown: Who was your first client?
Chad: In Boxing Jesse Sanders and Robbie Adamson (which both transferred to MMA and Sanders is 9-1 MMA and Adamson is 4-0 MMA)
Joe Jordan and Tyrell Roberts were my first MMA fighters.
MMAlowdown: Do you still represent them?
Chad: Yes I do.
MMAlowdown: What events are you involved with promoting?
Chad: Iowa Challenge, Extreme Challenge, Revolution Cage Fighting,Courage Fighting Championships, Royalty Fight Night, War Party Cage Fighting, I have also helped with King of the Cage, XFO and other shows.
MMAlowdown: What percent of your time is spent on boxing? MMA?
Chad: Now the majority of it is spent on MMA…When Iowa allowed us to do both sports on the same night, I was very active in both but now I spend just about everything in MMA…Also when I was working in both I didn’t have as many fighters to work with like I do now..
MMAlowdown: Do you prefer promoting boxing or mma?
Chad: I would say that MMA would have to be what I prefer.
MMAlowdown: How did you get your start?
Chad: I was training to be a boxer back in 95,96 and 97 when a man asked me to promote an MMA event with him….I knew nothing about the sport and nothing about promoting….The man was a boxing promoter and MMA was not heard of that much at the time when I started…So I decided to give it a try and help him…He hated it, I was intrigued by it and decided to keep doing it…At that point I was working a full time job of over 50 hours a week for a small business that hated MMA and did not like me doing it on the side….So, I battled through using all of my weekends off (which was only 12 a year) to promote fights…I never took a real vacation for several years due to wanting to promote the sport I grew to love. Then last January Monte Cox asked me about working for him full-time so I could then devote my entire day to MMA. Of course I excepted the job offer and took the leap of faith for myself and family and have never regretted it since.
MMAlowdown: What kind of education do you have?
Chad: I graduated high school and did go to college for a while but never finished anything. I have been around business my entire life and learned a lot through watching my family grow their business.
MMAlowdown: So a business degree would be very beneficial for an aspiring manager?
Chad: Yes it would help but it is not the biggest asset to being a successful manager and/or promoter.
MMAlowdown: What decision have you made, while managing or promoting, that you regret the most?
Chad: Not having Tim Sylvia on my early Iowa Challenge events when he was brand new…..He came to my shows and asked to be on and I just never had him fight for me.
MMAlowdown: Wow! Have you and Tim talked about it since? Are there any hard feelings? Or do you guys laugh about it?
Chad: Actually that is funny because Tim was a special guest at an event that Monte and I and Jason Reinhardt promote in Decatur Il, when Tim did bring it up….We talked about it last July and just laughed about it….Then very seriously Tim said to me “Why didnt you have me on?” I just replied with “There were no locals your size?”…
MMAlowdown: What fighter have you seen grow the most, that you managed from the beginning of their career?
Chad: I would have to say that Clay French and Chase Beebe. I started managing Clay since his 4th fight and he has fought in Pride and is now the King of the Cage World Champion. Chase has been with me since his second fight and is now 11-1 and on his way to some very big things.
MMAlowdown: What is the highlight of your career?
Chad: I would say 3 things. Being asked by Monte Cox to work fulltime for him. Monte is one of the biggest names in the sport and out of all the people he could have chosen, he chose me. That means a lot to me. The second one is cornering for my fighter, Joe Jordan in the UFC in July. That was something I always wanted to do and it happened last summer. Managing a World Champion in the King of the Cage is a huge highlight as well. I was at the event on January 19 in Rockford, Il when Clay French was named the champion.
MMAlowdown: What is the best part of your job?
Chad: Being able to set my own schedule, going to the places I do and meeting the people I have met.
MMAlowdown: If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?
Chad: I really don’t think I would change anything. Everything happens for a reason and I don’t like to doubt the past decisions I have made.
MMAlowdown: How many fighters contact you for management in a given week?
Chad: A normal week there is probably at least 5 or more that contact me.
MMAlowdown: Do you have to turn down a lot of fighters?
Chad: Yes I have to turn some down because I can only keep so many people active
MMAlowdown: Your phone probably never stops ringing, does it?
Chad: No, I would say a normal month for me I use around 9-12,000 minutes and around 1200 text messages.
MMAlowdown: What are some of the things you look for in a potential client?
Chad: Work ethic is one and loyalty is another. It is a long term commitment that has to be mutual.
MMAlowdown: Without naming names, have you ever split up with a client and had it get ugly?
Chad: No, not really…I did split with a fighter and it was due to a loyalty issue…That is my biggest trait….A fighters loyalty….I take my job very seriously and I expect that in return…I will be your best friend for life but it has to be a 2 way street….We are still friends just dont do business together anymore….
MMAlowdown: For someone looking to manage fighters for a career, How do they go about getting started?
Chad: It is a tough job and not for everyone….I guess that having connections is the biggest part of getting started and just building a good reputation.
MMAlowdown: What advice would you give to someone looking get into managing fighters?
Chad: Try to get along with as many people as possible. You never know when you might need help in your career.
MMAlowdown: How long did it take you to get from day one of your career, to where you are now?
Chad: I really had no idea what to expect where this thing could go. I am still amazed sometimes on the accomplishments that I have had in my career. I have been in the business for a long time but have taken it very serious the last couple years.
MMAlowdown: What are the realistic odds of someone getting into managing, and actually succeeding?
Chad: Like I stated before, it is tough. I truly feel that going about it the right way, and that is in a good way, it is possible. There are a lot of fighters out there that need good guidance. Take your time and take the right path and you will get there. It is not a “quick cash gig”. If you are in it to make a quick buck you should reconsider what you are doing. I have seen that a million times that a new promoter comes along and thinks it is easy, looses a ton of money, doesn’t pay anyone because he doesn’t have anything, then bails on the whole thing. That makes me sick!
MMAlowdown: Was there ever a time where you thought about making a new career choice, when times were almost too tough to bear?
Chad: You know, that has crossed my mind but I think that happens to everyone at some point…I just can’t think of anything I would rather do….I have a passion and one could say an addiction to this…I don’t see myself walking away anytime soon….
MMAlowdown: What advice would you give to a young up and coming fighter?
Chad: Stay Loyal to your friends and the people that get you where you are. Don’t be star struck. Then train hard and your work will pay off and everything happens for a reason.
MMAlowdown: What are some of the things they need to look out for when trying to find the right manager?
Chad: Do some background checks on the person with other fighters that have dealt with him. Another thing is that agents or managers that are new might try to promise the world to young fighters and convince them into something that they might not be sure of. Keep these things in mind.
MMAlowdown: How many hours do you put in a week?
Chad: That is a tough one. Realistically I would say between 60-70 hours a week. I work for a long time off and on throughout the day. It also depends on if I have a show that weekend.
MMAlowdown: Take us through a normal day.
Chad: I wake up around 8:30am
Go to the gym from 9am-10:30 and lift weights, wrestle, box and do cardio (each day is a little different on the workout)
Work on the computer with emails and paper work from 11:00-1:00pm
Take a lunch break from 1:00-1:30pm
Go back to work at 1:30- 5:30 making calls
5:30pm-8:30pm spend time with my wife and 3 kids and eat supper
9pm- midnight-2AM work on more paper work, return the calls I missed and work with the emails from the day.
That is a normal weekday for me. The weekends are much different. The week of a show is a lot different starting on Fridays.
Fridays normally I do interviews in the AM and see that the cage is being set up at the venue. The afternoon will bring a TV interview then the weigh ins around 7pm. Then to pass out flyers for my shows at night and finish the details for a show until around 2-3AM the night before.
The day of a show I work out the last minute issues and get the passes to the fighters and corners and do the physicals around 4pm and then the rules meeting around 6:30pm. The typical show will start around 7:30pm. After the show I will go to the after party and then back the hotel to finalize the event. Then head home Sunday morning and not do a whole lot all day. Then back at it Monday morning. It is a lot of work but there is nothing I would rather be doing and can’t see myself ever doing anything else. I love what I do and the people I am around.
MMAlowdown: Wow that’s impressive. Have you ever thought about competing? Maybe grappling or jiu jitsu, or even mma? You certainly have the connections and the work ethic!
Chad: That is how I got started was through training….But now, no not at all…I am just to into the business side of it to compete….I did wrestle a bit but got kicked out for an “illegeal” move….Funny because it would have been acceptable in an MMA fight….Thats another story though…Anyways, I like most, have had my fair share of memories in streetfights and just want to keep it there….Plus I never would have thought how sore I get after working out now….j/k I guess I am just getting older….
MMAlowdown: Is there anything else you want to say? Anybody to thank or anything like that?
Chad: Yes I would like to thank my family for being supportive, my wife Nikki and kids Dylan, Alexis and Josephine really help keep me motivated and keep my priorities straight….I do want to thank my staff for being willing to help out at the events that I promote…My fighters for understanding and trusting me with their careers and also I would like to thank Monte Cox for his guidance that he has given me and an inspiration for the type of job we have….And also for God for giving me the strength and wisdom to deal with the everyday battles that I endure. Thank you Matt for having me on the interview and being open to learn more about this sport that we love and are working so hard to improve.
MMAlowdown: We definitely appreciate you taking the time out of your very busy schedule to do this for us. I think I speak for everyone when I say that you are a very successful manager and we really learned a lot from you in this interview. You are putting together one hell of a stable of young fighters. 2006 was successful for you, but I have a feeling that 2007 and 08 are going to be on a whole different level.
You guys should go check out Chad’s website, Midwestfights.com, and see what he has going on. You can see all of the fighters he is managing, see their recent and up-coming events, and you can drop him an email and tell him what you think of his interview. And if you are a fighter looking for management, I can’t think of a better person to have on your side than him.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it. For all the latest news in the world of MMA, check back to MMAlowdown.com.