Friday, June 24, 2022

MMANews.com Exclusive Interview w/ HDNet Fights Guy Mezger

MMANews.com's own Chris Howie recently caught up with former UFC and PRIDE star, and HDNet Fights commissioner Guy Mezger to discuss the upcoming “Reckless Abandon” show, among a number of other topics. Below is a complete transcript of the interview which was conducted on Sunday, December 2, 2007.

GUY MEZGER INTERVIEW (DEC. 2, 2007)

Chris Howie of MMANews.com: This is Chris Howie with MMANews.com and today I am speaking with HDNet Fights own Guy Mezger. How are you today Guy?

Guy Mezger: I’m doing good.

MMANews.com: First and foremost let’s get this question out of the way. What is your job title with HDNet Fights? I’ve been reading different jobs and was wondering which one you actually had.

Guy Mezger: I oversee talent relations and match-making.

MMANews.com: Is that something you enjoy doing now that you are not fighting?

Guy Mezger: Yeah, I enjoy working with an organization that is really working to make this thing good for everyone involved. They are consciences about making money and being around for the long run. Mark Cuban is really consciences that the athletes are treated with respect and treated well and as an ex-fighter myself that is very important for me. So far we have been true to our word on that and we have been keeping things good for the athletes. There are other things that I would love to be able to do as the company grows. I do a lot of stuff now but we are still growing. As for right now talent relations and match-making is what I do and I enjoy it. I enjoy working and working with things I like to do so this is a no-brainer for me.

MMANews.com: What do you feel makes HDNet Fights different from other companies?

Guy Mezger: Well one of the main things is that we are so vertically integrated with all the resources. We own our own TV Company, we own the distribution company, we own movie theatres, and we own the arena that we are doing the majority of the fights at. That gives us a huge advantage when it comes to doing the events and doing them live. I think another big difference is that we are not jealous about pieces of turf like other companies are. Our goal is to turn this into more of a sport like boxing but before boxing got crazy. We are a really big advocate of open contracts so athletes can fight for different organizations, well they are called organizations now but we’d like them to be different promotions. Right now they call themselves organizations and they put titles on them. Right now the UFC is the king promotion and their champion is considered the world champion. When you look at these other companies they have champion this and champion that and it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s more or less the UFC and Pro-Elite is kind of getting there but what we would like to see is a universal sanctioning body that could really rank guys and get them the opportunity to fight and then, of course, promotions having access to different athletes. I think that’s the main difference we have, not only as an organization, but also spear heading this idea that we can get become more athlete-driven than organization drive.

MMANews.com: What do you think it would take to have everyone work together?

Guy Mezger: Boxing has specific rules and the things that the UFC does and that ProElite does, you cannot do that in boxing. There are actual laws against it but they are specific to boxing and not MMA. I do think it will only be a matter of time before that changes though and if that happens we will need independent sanctioning bodies. I would like to just see us beat them to the punch before the hammer comes down on us and get it done the way we want it done before it has to be dictated to us by someone else. It would take some forward thinking to make it all happen.

MMANews.com: Do you feel the UFC will change from exclusive fighter contracts to non-exclusive if more companies keep coming along that are offering non-exclusive and allowing fighters to compete elsewhere?

Guy Mezger: That’s going to be a tough one. It’s tough to say what could happen there. What’s going to open it up a bit more is the fact that major organizations… If ProElite can grow into a really big Elite organization and that being one of our goals, than it will put pressure on people to want to really see who has the best fighters and who the best is and hopefully that will spark some cooperation. If fighters can make money in other organizations like the UFC, ProElite, and HDNet Fights — meaning they can bounce around a little bit — then we have to be cooperative. Everyone wants Fedor right now but he is with M-1. They are doing what we want to do and getting him out there and making sure he’s busy and getting notoriety in America and they don’t necessarily want to flip the bill for that. He is kind of spear-heading the way for athletes and what he is doing now is going to make it better for the athletes in the long run.

MMANews.com: What companies are you working with now?

Guy Mezger: We are looking to work with the IFL, Sportfight, and we are also working with other companies that I am not at liberty to talk about because every time I say something I get hollered at [laughs]

MMANews.com: Understandable.

Guy Mezger: Our intentions are to open to a lot of people and because of the network that we have we are useful to a lot of people. That is a good thing for us and for other companies.

MMANews.com: How often do you plan on doing shows?

Guy Mezger: Well right now we plan on doing at least 4-5 shows a year in Dallas and then we’ll decide from there where we are going to go. What we would really like to have is great partners and then we can do 4-5 fights a year and do something with our partners for “HDNet Fights Present:” and hopefully our partners for “HDNet Fights Presents:” will become strong enough and have enough notoriety to stand on their own with us. That will allow us to start building horizontally and continue vertically. It is a strain on us to do a ton of fights so it would just be easier for us to have really good partners.


Guy Mezger talks HDNet Fights with MMANews.com …

MMANews.com: So in time there is the possibility of branching out and moving across the country?

Guy Mezger: Without a doubt. Everyone wants to do a fight in Las Vegas or at Madison Square Garden. Mark is definitely looking into those things.

MMANews.com: You do have some big names on this card such as Frank Trigg and Jason Miller, are there plans now to bring other recognizable fighters in?

Guy Mezger: Well yes, but our plan is to also create big name fighters to. See one problem with that is thought is that the UFC is so big, so if these guys aren’t fighting on the UFC cards than people may believe that they aren’t big enough to be on the big shows or that good. I want to build athletes and there is plenty of talent out there that nobody knows about that has what it takes to be on the big shows. It’s a real catch 22 sometimes because we get stuck in — how do we build up our own talent while bringing in established fighters?

MMANews.com: It would be a balance of bringing up fighters on your own and bringing in talent at the right times but sometimes that could blow up on you.

Guy Mezger: And my friend, that is the beauty of this sport. We are willing to take the chances to make things happen though and we will be trying to make the best possible cards. Sometimes you run into problems where athletes are freaking delusional on what kind of money they could be worth though -that can be a real problem with foreign fighters. Sometimes the fights that I think are going to be great can be terrible and the ones I think are going to be terrible will be great.

MMANews.com: It’s all in the match-up but even then you can get the bad fights that fans will just boo anyway. That comes from not understanding the sport though.

Guy Mezger: Well yeah. It is what it is but a lot of fans who call themselves fans don’t understand what MMA really is. They don’t realize that the stand-up game is like playing checkers and the ground-game is like playing chess. It’s a much more sophisticated part of MMA. Fans now don’t want to understand it they just want to be thrilled. I guess when it comes to making the right match-ups it is a little bit of science and a little bit of luck.

MMANews.com: What are some of your long term goals at HDNet Fights?

Guy Mezger: Well one of the main goals is to be an alternative for MMA. The UFC is the 800lbs gorilla and we don’t want to hunt the 800lbs gorilla we want to be an 800lbs gorilla ourselves. I think that will help the growth of the sport and help athletes make money. That is our ultimate goal. As a TV station we want to be the home of MMA. We want to have 2 events live every month on TV and then on the off weeks we want to use the untelevised fights. So basically we want to have 48 shows from 24 events. We want to be the home place for MMA.

MMANews.com: The internet can play spoiler in those situations…

Guy Mezger: Yeah but we own the rights so the internet can’t show the events. They can give the results but they can’t show the event.

MMANews.com: Do you still do any training yourself?

Guy Mezger: Oh yeah. I train 5-6 days a week.

MMANews.com: Any chance of a Guy Mezger return on HDNet Fights.

Guy Mezger: [laughs] No I doubt it. I always play with the idea but like I always tell everybody it would be a 2 fight deal. The first fight would be with my wife and if I can get through that we can talk the second.

MMANews.com: What was it that finally caused you to retire? I’ve read to had stroke like symptoms

Guy Mezger: Well I had a stroke. That didn’t really cause me to retire. I was released to go back fighting a year later. The stroke was from an anti-inflammatory I was taking and after about a year when they checked my blood they cleared me to fight. At that point it was after a year since my last fight and I was just at a different part of my life. I enjoy what I do now so I don’t think I’d go back. I’ll be honest, I’m a wuss man. I love being around my wife and kids and I don’t want to be away from them for months at a time. I don’t like missing them two days let along two months. For me to go back fighting it would have to be something that really fired me and of course, a whole lot of money. [laughs]

MMANews.com: What are your thoughts on Ken Shamrock returning to MMA?

Guy Mezger: You know I haven’t worked out with Ken in a long time but the last time I talked to him he said he was doing great and feeling a lot better. Ken is one of those guys that have fought his whole life. He’s also had a lot of injuries. People say that pro-wrestling is fake but there is nothing fake about it. They take a lot of bumps and bruises. Ken had more injuries from pro-wrestling than he ever did fighting. That’s a real steel-chair hitting you in the head and that’s a real 300lbs man that just jumped on your chest. Ken has had a little lay off now after back to back fights with Tito [Ortiz] and he is feeling healthy now and a healthy Ken Shamrock is always a dangerous fighter.

MMANews.com: Would HDNet Fights consider having Ken on a card?

Guy Mezger: Sure why not? The thing a lot of people are thinking when Mark came on board with this was that he’d come in and drop a billion dollars on this and do outrageous things. Mark didn’t become a billionaire because of was stupid with his money or irresponsible with his money. His intention is to be here in the long run and we need to establish ourselves as an honest company and when I say honest I mean that we will honestly going to be doing our very best to create the very best MMA for our fans. It will take time but we hope to do big things eventually. We want to give fans an alternative to the UFC. We don’t want to say “We are going to take over the UFC”, ProElite did that and they just haven’t, they haven’t come close. That is not our intention at all we want to have people enjoy what he have and build fans. As we grow we will be investing more money and such. I think it’s stupid to go and spend a whole bunch of money right now without building credibility with the fans and media and such. People have done that in the past and where are they at now? We’re in this for the long run and we are going to build our fan base and credibility with the fans and the fighters. That is what the UFC did. They have paid the price, pros and cons aside, they did it smart and we can do that to.

MMANews.com: When will the next card be after the December show?

Guy Mezger: February 15th.

MMANews.com: OK Guy, I won’t take up any more of your time. I really appreciate you taking the time out to speak with me today. Good Luck with HDNet Fights.

Guy Mezger: Thank You.

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