Kelly Perdew is the current president of the ProElite.com website, which starting March 31st will be launching a new service that will provide fans the opportunity to watch MMA events streamed live on the internet. The website will begin on the 3/31 date with the ICON Sport show, which features Frank Trigg vs. Robbie Lawler for the ICON Middleweight title.
Kelly is also known to some as the winner of the second season of Donald Trump's hit-reality television show, “The Apprentice.”
In the following interview conducted by MMANews.com's own Luis Cruz on Tuesday, March 20th, Kelly discusses his time on Donald Trump's staff, his plans to better the sport of MMA through his innovative ProElite.com website and much more. Below is a complete transcript.
Luis Cruz of MMANews.com: This is Luis Cruz of MMANews.com and I'm joined with Kelly Perdew from Pro Elite Inc. Kelly, how are you?
Kelly Perdew: Doing great. How are you doing, Luis?
MMANews.com: Ahh not too bad. Now [you had a] big breaking story today and I'm going to get to that in a little bit. First of all, for the people who might not know you, you were from The Apprentice reality show with Donald Trump, you won on season two. I actually don't watch the show so real quick tell us why aren't you working with Donald Trump right now?
Kelly Perdew: Well, I left the Trump organization after my year was up. He basically taught me a whole lot. I learned a whole lot about marketing and branding and a lot about real estate, but really I'm an entrepreneur and would like to run my own businesses.
MMANews.com: Okay, that's understandable. How did you come across this job? You are the president of Pro Elite, correct?
Kelly Perdew: Correct. President of ProElite.com. Pro Elite Inc., the parent company was actually founded by three incredible entrepreneurs. They saw and understood how important martial arts, or mixed-martial arts was. In terms of its' growing popularity, the amazing – almost olympic quality of the athletes that are involved, and they thought that bringing technology into play for a live event company (our live event company is Elite XC) we could do some really great things for the sport.
MMANews.com: How did you come across this job, exactly?
Kelly Perdew: Well before going on The Apprentice, I was the president of a company called Etanz and it's an amateur sports portal. It's serving about 3.1 million amateur teams now. Little league teams, midget football, bowling leagues – you name it. It provides some great templated software for schedules, standings, rosters, you know? It gives cookie-mom's directions to the games. Everything. Well, a lot of those features, obviously not the same features, but a lot of the features in building out of community were what we heard in talking to fans and fighters and organizations in mixed-martial arts. We're exactly what was needed and there was nothing that existed out there like this. So for fans, for fighters, for organizations – we're trying to provide tools that enable them to do whatever it is they wanna do better. A fighter wants to promote themselves, wants to interact with their fan base, wants to look for potential sponsors. You name it, we're gonna enable that on ProElite.com. And that breaking news you talked about earlier is one of the things we wanna do as well – promoting fights. ICON Sport is having an event on March 31st in Hawaii and we're gonna stream the fight live, for free, to the internet. All of the fights.
MMANews.com: Real quick before I get to that, how long have you been an MMA fan?
Kelly Perdew: Well, I remember watching Dan Severn fight, and I believe it was in [UFC] II or III, quite a while ago before it got such a bad reputation, before the UFC did such a good job of bringing it back to the public eye with some rule changes and some great marketing and promotion and getting “TUF” (The Ultimate Fighter) on Spike. Personally, I've never participated in mixed-martial arts but I grew up in Judo in West Point and boxing and wrestling. I did Tae Kwan Do while I was in the army as a military intelligence officer. The discipline, the skill, the dedication it takes to excel in one martial art, let-alone several as these athletes do is something I understand well and appreciate.
MMANews.com: Well it's definitely good that someone as passionate as yourself is in control of ProElite.com and seeking out ways to improve this new sport of ours the way you have.
Kelly Perdew: Oh yeah, you have to be authentic. It's gotta be credible and that's one of the reasons we're attempting to …I know how to build a web community and all of that. I'm not a mixed-martial arts expert, wouldn't dare say that, but I'm going to surround myself around those that are and we're going to take ProElite.com to the next level in terms of making sure it's credible. That's why we're developing relationships with a lot of people in the industry and really wanna be able to provide the service that we do. One of those big one's we're doing is for ICON Sport on March 31st. The event is in Hawaii and we know that everyone on the main land would like to see these fighters fighting so we talked to the guys there and said we'd be able to stream it live for free with our technologies, on to ProElite.com, and they were excited about it as well. It helps the fan-base, it helps ICON Sport promote their event, and it's definitely going to help the fighters involved with that fight being seen by a lot more people then they would if it was not streamed to the internet.
MMANews.com: Right, now let's talk about that a little more – ProElite.com. That's the big news, you guys are going to be streaming these live fights and you're starting March 31st with a big fight. It's Frank Trigg's first defense of his Middleweight title in ICON against former champion Robbie Lawler. Just tell us the basics on that real quick, the whole live stream and how it works and if you're going to have any other promotions like Strikeforce streamed in the future.
Kelly Perdew: Absolutely. One of the things that people asked us since we have an association with Elite XC – people think that's all we're going to focus on. That's not the case. We really are about the entire sport of mixed-martial arts. So any organizations out there or promoters who would like to have their events streamed to the internet live – we're more than happy to talk with them about it and figure out how to make it work. Certainly with Strikeforce – you name it, you know? If Dana [White] wants a UFC event or some of the undercards from their PPV streamed live – we'd be more than happy to do it.
Find ProElite on the web by logging onto www.ProElite.com.
MMANews.com: Alright aside from them, what about PRIDE – if they stay as the PRIDE we all know currently, what about them?
Kelly Perdew: Oh absolutely. Again, we really look at ProElite.com as being Switzerland. It's about the sport, it's not about an individual fighter or an individual brand, like you know it's not about ProElite.com, it's actually about the sport. Anyway that we can get the word out, more exposure, enable people to see what's going on. In addition to the live streaming of the fights, we enable fans to build their own webpages, fighters to build their own webpages, and organizations. Whether you're a fight club, a gym, a dojo, you name it – you can build your own page and interact with others in the sport of mixed-martial arts. So it's very focused. We bring daily news items, we spotlight and highlight individuals – whether you're a fan, a fighter, an organization. And every two or three weeks we keep rolling out new features based on what our users keep telling us they want to see. If a fan wants to interact better with a fighter, or a fighter wants to be able to blog about their training sessions. Anything. Tips, drills, instructions, nutrition, training, you name it. We're gonna enable those fighters and managers to promote that and share that with the rest of the community.
MMANews.com: That's cool. Now you guys said this is like MySpace, correct?
Kelly Perdew: It's actually – if I had to pick something, I'd try and call it a combination of MySpace and YouTube for MMA. We really try to enable video uploading – so fighters can put up their best fights to try and find promoters to help them out. Fans can put up photos of their favorite fighters and do whatever they wanna be able to do with that. And a lot of the interaction you find on MySpace is available on ProElite.com. You can exchange information, exchange comments. You can leave private messages for people or make it publicly displayed. And again – the different content that these individuals or organizations want to put up, they're able to do it for free on ProElite.com.
MMANews.com: I was surfing around and I really enjoyed how everything is organized. You have things seperated for different companies or fighters and the like. I even think I saw a section for ring card girls!
Kelly Perdew: We do have a ring girls section when you sign up as some type of a person, a fan or a fighter or you can also identify yourself as a ring girl and we're actually going to be launching a contest in search of some ring girls. On March 30th that should launch. So whoever comes to ProElite.com on March 31st to watch the fights, should be able to see the ring girl contest. So all you wannabe ring girls out there, there's a pretty cool contest you can check out on March 30th.
MMANews.com: Who's that contest for? Is that for ICON?
Kelly Perdew: That ring girl contest will be for Elite XC, I believe. You'll get to be a Showtime ring girl. You'll actually get to work one of the Showtime events that Elite XC does.
MMANews.com: Wow they already have like 50 of them [at the first Elite XC show], they're looking for more? [laughs]
Kelly Perdew: I don't hear you complaining, do I?! [laughs]
MMANews.com: Absolutely not!
Kelly Perdew: [laughs] I didn't think so.
MMANews.com: Oh man I had one of the best seats in the house, right there at the cage to see them. Now with Elite, are you going to eventually air their entire cards or is it going to remain just the undercard bouts with the main fights airing on Showtime only?
Kelly Perdew: I believe our plan for now is to have the undercard streamed for free to the internet and then the top card to be on Showtime. I believe that's the plan for right now. If anything changes, we'll have updates on our site. Oh yeah, I'm right here at mmanews.proelite.com and you do need to blow this out a little bit. Get some more info up here! Start loading up some info or …here, I'll smack you right now that you need to put some more information up.
MMANews.com: [laughing] I will definitely do that some time this week.
Kelly Perdew: [laughs] Alright.
MMANews.com: Currently you have a contract with ICON and Elite. What about Strikeforce are you in a contract with them or still working on one?
Kelly Perdew: I'm not sure I can discuss what the legal situation is right now, in terms of the contract. So I can't really comment much on that right now.
MMANews.com: Ok, but you are talking with them?
Kelly Perdew: Yeah I can't …I can't. I'm in one of those positions where I can't really confirm or deny anything based on our status as a publicly traded company. I'm not gonna comment on that.
MMANews.com: That's cool. I'll take that as a yes [laughs]. Now this is a great idea. ICON, Strikeforce – I don't get them on TV where I live in the east coast, so this is huge for me as a fan and I'm sure for a lot of other mixed-martial arts fans. So for everybody I definitely want to thank you for hooking this up.
Kelly Perdew: Absolutely and we wanna hear more about what all the fans out there want. So you can actually find me at kellyperdew.proelite.com and you can actually send me a private message on something you want to see on the website. Or if there's a specific fight or anything else you want us to cover or an organization you'd like us to develop a relationship with so we can provide these live streams of the fights to wherever you are with your computer. Let me know about it and we'll put a team on it and try and figure out a way to do it.
MMANews.com: Alright, awesome. Now before we let you go, is there anything you want to add?
Kelly Perdew: Well we're just very excited to be working with anybody out there who's also as serious as our vision with growing the sport of mixed-martial arts. We know we're gonna be growing significantly and we enjoy the help of all the fans and fighters and organizations out there. We want to help each of you be better at what you're doing. The fighters are the one's out there making all this happen so my hat is off to them.
MMANews.com: Again thanks for hooking us up with the details. We appreciate it Kelly and we'll definitely be in touch in the future.
Kelly Perdew: Excellent. So if you're really thankful for this last minute interview, promise me you're going to put something up on mmanews.proelite.com so people can check it out.
MMANews.com: You have my word. I'm a man of my word! [laughs]
Kelly Perdew: Alright, sounds great.
MMANews.com: Alright Kelly, thanks brother.
Kelly Perdew: You bet. See everyone on the 31st.
For more information on the upcoming live stream of the ICON Sport event featuring Frank Trigg vs. Robbie Lawler, plus all of the interactive features mentioned above, CLICK HERE to visit ProElite.com!