Saturday, June 4, 2011

Muaythai Premier League President/CEO Clifton Brown talks about the upcoming league

The Muay Thai world received a huge announcement on Thursday when Warrior Caste Productions and the World Muaythai Council unveiled the Muaythai Premier League. Muay Thai Authority was able to catch up with Muaythai Premier League President/CEO Clifton Brown regarding the upcoming Muay Thai league.

MTA: You just unveiled the Muaythai Premier League, and boy was it ever an unveiling. How were you able to keep everything under the radar until the press conference?

Clifton Brown: It was a challenge to keep everything under the radar, but it was necessary. Building a project like this requires a lot of a work and preparation with so many things having to line up at the right moment. Timing is everything. We always kept it in mind for the sake of the Sport, the fans, and the competitors, the importance of being ready. So it was important for us at Warrior Caste to make sure we had as many of the pieces in place as possible, before the launch.

MTA: Unlike most Muay Thai promotions you are a league and you are signing fighters to contracts, what made you decide to change things up as opposed to just running this like a regular promotion?

Clifton Brown: Continuity is an important thing in the market place, and in order for the sport to grow, we felt the approach needed to be adjusted. The league format we believe, was the best way to allow the competitors stability, objectively determine a true champion, and give the fans the best product possible. Lastly, we believe this format will make it easier for those on the outside of the sport to follow along.

MTA: Can you explain a little more about the league standings and how they will work? Looking at a first glance it really seems to resemble a soccer league because of the A and B groups.

Clifton Brown: The first six events (round robin stage), are set up as the regular season, while the final 2 events (elimination stage), are the playoffs. In each of the 5 weight divisions there are 8 competitors. These fighters are split into 2 groups of 4: 'Group A' and 'Group B'. Here the competitors will round robin in their respective groups to determine who qualifies to go on to the playoffs. Standings are determined as follows: competitors receive 3 points for a KO win, 2 points for a decision, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. At the end of the regular season, the top 2 competitors in each group go on to the elimination stage where in the semis 'Group A' #1 fighter will be matched against 'Group B' #2, and 'Group B' #1 fighter will be matched against 'Group A' #2. The winners then go on to the Finals for a chance at a significant fight purse, and the MPL and WMC World Championship title in their respective weight. At the end of the season the bottom 4 fighters will face regulation, and The MPL will draft in 4 new competitors per weight class.

We adopted this format for the league because we believed it would be the most exciting and transparent way to determine who the champions are.


MTA: The first season is expected to have eight events correct? About how many times is a fighter expected to fight in one season?

Clifton Brown: Yes that is correct, there are 8 events per season. And competitors contracted to the league are guaranteed 3 matches in the round robin stage. If they earn it, they will have the possibility of 5 matches in the season, and a chance at a legitimate World Championship.

MTA: You have already signed some of the biggest names in Muay Thai to the Muaythai Premier League. Will you allow fighters to fight outside of the Muaythai Premier League?

Clifton Brown: This is a very good question.

Having been a fighter myself I fully understand the challenges fighters face if they are not active, as well as the issue of needing to make enough money to justify all the sacrifice. On the other hand, as a league we need to balance TV commitments. With live broadcast on network television our schedule is not flexible. We fully support the competitors being able to fight on other events, However, we do hold the right of first refusal, as well as the limitation, that fighters can not fight other fighters contracted to The MPL on other promotions. These conditions will apply once the league starts in September. 


MTA: Before each event there will be a lead in documentary "Into the Fire". Will fans be able to see this on television, or the Internet?

Clifton Brown: The show Into The Fire, we feel is a really important part of the MPL project, as we believe it will educate the average viewer on the humanity and sacrifice involved in sport. In the show we will focus on the fighters lives, their countries, and the culture of the sport.

Viewers will definitely be able to see the show on television. Fox Sports Ocenia & ESPN Asia are already on board via the WMC. We are also completing negotiations with a major television network in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to have MuayThai available in prime time, this would be a first for our sport. Also, fans will also be able to view the shows through secondary windows on our website. With the Asian launch and Press Conference we also launched the Beta version of our Website (TheMPL.tv), but over the coming weeks we will be launching the full website with these and other capabilities included. 


MTA: Your first event is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on September 2nd, and it already is notable as it will feature Buakaw and Dzhabar Askerov in their American debuts. Why Los Angeles for the Muaythai Premier League's first event?

Clifton Brown: Southern California, and California in general have always been a hot spot for Martial Arts. All the legends of the arts at one time or other have lived there. With Martial Art films, the large amount of fans, to the multi-cultural communities with interest in the art, it wasn't a difficult choice.

MTA: What other locations are events going to be held at?

Clifton Brown: All our events will take place in pockets where the sport is quite popular. Holland, Australia, U.S.A. China, and of course Thailand. With plans to visit other cities in Season 2. 

MTA: How far in between will fans have to wait for each event to take place?

Clifton Brown: We try to keep an average of 5 weeks between events in the regular season. We will extend the break in the playoffs, MuayThai is pretty rough and we need to give the competitors enough recovery time.

MTA: Any parting words you have for fans of the sport on what to expect from Warrior Caste and the Muaythai Premier League?

Clifton Brown: We hope that fans will appreciate the efforts of all involved at Warrior Caste and The World MuayThai Council in bringing the MPL. Please show MuayThai your support by coming out to events, and watching on TV and Internet. We in turn will do our part to make sure spectacular events are put forward with the world's best fighters.

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