MIAMI — Although the recent American debut of SFT MMA & Xtreme (Standout Fighting Tournament) didn’t go as expected, due to COVID-19 restrictions and issues, the Brazil-based promotion successfully established its uniquely entertaining combat sports brand in a new, important market.
SFT president David Hudson, who recently completed his second year in charge of SFT, sat down to review SFT’s return, discuss his background, and reveal the company’s short-and-long range goals:
SFT’s show in Brazil, SFT 22, was scheduled for August 1 in Sao Paulo, but it was canceled hours after the conclusion of the weigh-in. The Aug. 13th SFT 23 event was held in Miami, but not without a myriad of problems, resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Considering the situation in retrospect, along with the added expenses (testing, etc.), why didn’t you cancel the Miami show?
DH: “Everything was going great. We were set to come to the United States and then Mexico, but then the pandemic hit. It had been too long for us without a show (Feb. 29, 2020 in Sao Paulo) and our plans are big. We needed to get back to producing shows.”
How did you evaluate the SFT 23 American debut?
DH: “Our original plan was to bring 10 fighters from Brazil, corners, announcer, etc. and have a USA vs. Brazil card. We were going to bring our top fighters in Brazil. It would have been the type fight card only a few promotions in the world could put together. It really would have put us on the map! Our American debut needed to happen, and we had some great fights, just not the big wow factor we intended to have in Miami. It was still worth it, though, and it has put us on a new level.”
What is your background and how does it fit into promoting SFT MMA & Xtreme?
DH: “MMA is a sport but it’s also a show. It’s not going to happen without fans. We have some amazing matchmakers who have the same vision as me. My background is in film, 20-plus years of traveling everywhere to film festivals and for productions. I’ve watched how different cultures work. I’ve brought my world experience to SFT to take SFT MMA & Xtreme to the world.”
Why do you believe American combat sports fans will support SFT?
DH: “We are different. We have a mascot, ‘Kiss Cam’, and we call kids into the cage to compete for cash prizes. I’m a vastly different type promoter who likes to do crazy stuff. Then there’s our matchmaking. We have no association to any teams and do not represent any fighters. I’m not looking to make it easy for them, protecting fighters to build up their records, and then have them leave for some other organization. This has worked well in Brazil. Our philosophy is to give fans great fights, keep them entertained, and then they will come back.”
What are your short-and-long range goals for SFT in the U.S. and around the world and where do you plan to promote shows once COVID-19 is gone?
DH: “Right now, it’s day by day. We’ve heard that Hard Rock (Hollywood, FLA) may be opening in December and if that’s true, we’d like to promote a show at there as soon as it’s available to us. When the pandemic is over, our plan for a 12-month period is to promote four shows in the United States, two in Mexico, and 6-8 in Brazil.”
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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