When a victorious fighter stands in the center of the Octagon, Joe Rogan thrusting a microphone in their face, asking them to retrace the events that just happened, the first thing most of them do is rattle off their thank you list.
Everyone gets mentioned — sponsors, coaches, training partners, teammates, friends, family, Jesus. Just about everybody gets a shout out.
Everybody except the managers.
“Our position as a manager, we’re the least appreciated people in this business,” offers Mike Roberts with a laugh. “The trainers, and the fighters, everybody gets all the credit. And that’s fine, because at the end of the day, we know what we mean to (our fighters) and their families.
“I want the fans wearing the fighter’s name on their shirt, not my name. I could care less if they know who I am, as long as they know my fighter.”
If you’re an MMA fan, you’re well aware of many of the fighters represented by Roberts and Jeff Meyer, the tandem at the head of MMA Inc. Fighter Management.
Their client list includes numerous members of Team Alpha Male, Mark Munoz, Anthony Pettis, and Scott Jorgensen, with the pair starting to work together through Urijah Faber, the former WEC featherweight champion and leader of Team Alpha Male.
“Around 2005, I was practicing law at the time, and Urijah had come with some legal questions,” recalls Meyer, offering the Cliff Notes version of the company’s origin story. “We started working more and more together, and Urijah introduced me to Mike. Through my dealings with Urijah, Mike and I became friends, and in 2006 we incorporated the business.
“We both just decided that if we were going to do it, let’s do it right with a corporate structure, and since then, we’ve added 20 fighters. That was in a nutshell how it kind of got started.”
They make decisions jointly, but each focuses on their area of expertise; Roberts working more with the fighters and promoters, Meyer handling the sponsorship side of things.
The way they approach building their clientele and working with their athletes is exemplified through the Team Alpha Male members they represent; former champion Faber, current title contenders Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez, and emerging talents like Lance Palmer and TJ Dillashaw.
“What separates us from the vast majority of management companies too is that the majority of our roster are fighters that we have been with since the beginning like Chad Mendes, Mark Munoz, Scott Jorgensen, Urijah,” explains Meyer.
“These are all guys that we’ve been with since the very beginning. We take an approach that we like to be with guys throughout their career, rather than sign guys who are already established. That’s not to say that if a fighter came to us we wouldn’t work with him, it’s just that we have to believe that we can do something positive for their career.”
“I think you have to continuously build that way because these guys aren’t going to fight forever,” adds Roberts, picking up where Meyer left off. “Our business plan is for the next 30 years, not the next five or six or seven. We want to build a company that continues to grow, and keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and help create after-fighting lives and business for our clients.”