Previously, publicist Ryan Kavanaugh was acclaimed as one of Hollywood’s most productive and unusual producers through his business, Relativity Media. With rare honesty for that industry, Ryan Kavanaugh said, “I’m not in this for the art… Make money.”
Now there’s Triller Fight Club, founded by Kavanaugh, which has promoted high-profile fights with names like Mike Tyson, Jake Paul, and now Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort.
Ryan Kavanaugh’s unrepentant approach to Triller Fight Club performances has featured live musical acts, rapper Snoop Dogg smoking a joint during a fight, and comedians like Pete Davidson serving as roaming reporters.
Introducing notions that combat sports, particularly the boxing business, should have adopted years ago, says Ryan Kavanaugh.
“Boxing and MMA are for entertainment,” Kavanaugh recently told MMA Fighting. “The point is, no matter how you look at it, people watch because it’s entertaining. People pay to be entertained. The times aren’t keeping up with boxing’s diminishing audience of mostly male over 50s. “
“We are literally shaking things up. The idea is to take every conflict to a new level. It doesn’t imply better, but we learn from each one. No fight. So we aim to cater to all,” Ryan Kavanaugh explains.
However, Kavanaugh has recently found himself at conflicts with UFC president Dana White, particularly after attempting to match Oscar De La Hoya with two-division champion Georges St-Pierre.
UFC Vs. MMA
St-Pierre, who resigned from UFC competition in 2019, has stated that he is not interested in returning to MMA, but he would be interested in fighting a great like De La Hoya.
Unfortunately, St-Pierre is still under contract with the UFC and cannot compete outside of the company, even if it isn’t MMA. To Kavanaugh, that meant denying an athlete a chance to make a lot of money and live out a goal to fight in boxing.
“Indentured servitude is illegal in America,” Kavanaugh said. “Yet Georges St-Pierre, who is officially retired from the UFC and has stated he will never compete in MMA again, isn’t allowed to step into a boxing ring and fight someone on his bucket list because Dana White says he can’t. That’s wrong.”
Even though St-Pierre is still under contract with the UFC, Kavanaugh says he would love to work with the Canadian superstar, but he doubts his old promoters would let him until he sues them.
“I adore Georges as a boxer and a human being,” Kavanaugh remarked. “I think he fights well. I think he’s a nice guy who’s easy to deal with. He could, and probably would, contest his contract, but that isn’t my call. If he wanted to fight with us, he could take on the UFC and tell them he wanted their contract declared unconstitutional, which I believe he would.
Ryan Kavanaugh Calls Out the UFC
Dana sent us legal letters stating we’re interfering with his contracts. When I heard Jon [Jones] wanted out of the UFC, I tweeted, ‘maybe you can do something with Fight Club and we can work something out with the UFC.’ I didn’t say around them, I said let’s work something out with them. I was told we were interfering with their warriors. We can’t do anything since we aren’t them. We would like to work with Georges on a long-term basis.”
He has regularly criticized the UFC’s general pay system, where players are paid a far lesser amount of income than their peers in other big sports like boxing, football, basketball, etc.
NFL and NBA players have collective bargaining agreements with their unions that guarantee them a set share of the income collected.
According to financial data given by the UFC as part of an ongoing antitrust action, fighters participating in the octagon take home 20% or less of the earnings.
In June, Kavanaugh saw that UFC fighter Sarah Alpar had set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a training camp. Triller donated $25,000, while YouTuber turned fighter Jake Paul donated $5,000, helping Alpar meet her goal in hours.
“It makes me sad,” Kavanaugh remarked. “These are folks who work harder, put their brains and bodies through more than any career I’ve ever seen. They actually push themselves to death. They abuse their minds and have a short fighting life. No, it’s not like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. This universe has a timing because of the toll it takes on your body.
Equal Pay For All
We’re all in business, so go earn a lot of money — but pay your warriors. They’re the foundation of your business. How can you establish a $5 billion brand but not pay your boxer enough to be in camp and pay her less than your ring girls? It’s illogical for what you’re asking.”
Former UFC fighter Ben Askren called his one fight with Triller Fight Club his biggest payday ever, and Kavanaugh aims to continue that trend for future competitors.
“Many say we overpaid,” Kavanaugh remarked. “I think we’re not overpaying them if we’re both making money. That’s it. Businesses should be operated to create a profit enough to develop and pay employees fairly. It bites you otherwise. “I’m amazed the UFC hasn’t had more trouble. My understanding is that they haven’t actually challenged their contract’s constitutionality.
The UFC luminaries Vitor Belfort vs. Evander Holyfield and Anderson Silva vs. Tito Ortiz will be promoted by Triller on Saturday night.
Triller’s main emphasis in combat sports is boxing for now, but Kavanaugh says he hopes to ultimately extend out into MMA, putting him in direct rivalry with White and the UFC.
Athletes who want to fight but aren’t under contract or ready for a second wind could contact Kavanaugh. “Many fighters, whether boxers or MMA, burn out and think they’re done. A new breeze blows.
“We have a plan to develop our own MMA spinoff that will merge boxing and MMA on our shows and take parts of both. So part of marrying them is creating a mixture of the two.”
Not Looking For Issues
Kavanaugh insists he isn’t seeking a fight with White or any other promoter in combat sports, but he also won’t apologize for Triller’s business practices. “I think we’re attempting something new,” Kavanaugh added. “We’re attempting to widen the audience. It scares me that it does. I don’t think so. We’re welcoming to everybody. We welcome everybody. We want to aid boxers, and that’s a good thing.
“Some get it and phone us daily, while others try to undermine it. Normal. If it was simple, everyone would,” Ryan Kavanaugh smiles.