Many regional mixed martial arts promotions have come and gone over the years. Some disappear as quickly as they arrived because of mismanagement, lack of funding, bad matchmaking, or sometimes a combination of all three. Promoting MMA is not an easy thing to do, being successful at it is even harder.
Island Fights, Titan FC, and LFA are some of the most tenured promotions on the regional scene. they stick around because they have found their groove, or niche in their markets where they build a base of both talent and fans. While all three of the aforementioned promotions have done great work in their home areas, and even ventured to take their respective shows on the road, they always have their home base to support them.
There is a new kid on the block, and this kid is coming in hot. Introducing iKON Fighting Federation!
iKON is going to do big things, and they will make their promotional debut on September 24th in Biloxi, Mississippi, with fans in attendance, and the show will stream LIVE on UFC Fight Pass! What is that you say, a debuting promotion on Fight Pass? Yes, that’s exactly what I said.
iKON is new, however, the folks involved aren’t new to this game at all. Headed up by Keith Veltre who is the owner/CEO of Roy Jones Jr Boxing (RJJ Boxing) which is the only boxing promotion on UFC Fight Pass. Veltre has proven to be successful in the combat sports arena along with numerous other ventures outside of the world of sports, in other words, the man at the top knows what is needed to build a company, and have it sustain itself in its space, and on the ledger.
Veltre wanted in on the world of mixed martial arts promoting, but he knew he needed a team that had the experience and drive to give iKON a fast start out of the gate, and he had someone in mind.
Veltre reached out to Island Fights CEO/Founder Dean Toole to see if he was interested in joining the team. These two men knew each other because of their association with Roy Jones Jr. Veltre as mentioned heads up RJJ Boxing, and Toole and Jones are linked through Island Fights which is under the umbrella of Square Ring Promotions, famous for promoting all of Jones’ boxing matches over the years. Veltre was able to see first hand what Toole was able to accomplish as an MMA promoter based out of Pensacola, which is not exactly known for its fight community, outside of Jones himself. Yet Toole was able to produce successful events over the last 10 years, and became one of the most respected and liked promoters in the sport. Providing opportunities to athletes from all across the country to shine on a big stage. Toole has put numerous fighters into the UFC, and his eye for talent and matchmaking landed him his own Fight Pass deal. Again, an achievement that is a big deal for any promotion, was even bigger for Toole because of his locale.
Toole is in love with matchmaking! It is his passion. That passion is exactly what Veltre wanted, and needed as he is going all-in on MMA, and has to have the right people in place to get it done. Being your own boss is something that everyone says they want to do, and Toole is an excellent CEO. However, his duties as CEO of Island Fights sometimes dug into his time that he would have rather spent on putting fights together, being the boss has its pluses, and minuses as well.
Toole will be the matchmaker for iKON, that is his job. The rest of the work will be done by Veltre. Both men are ecstatic about this arrangement. Veltre got his man, and Toole can focus on bringing in the most talented fighters in the world, and putting them in tough fights that will make them better, and provide them opportunities to hit the biggest shows on the planet like the UFC!, and for Toole that is why he does this! And without the distraction of having to oversee an entire promotion as the boss, Toole is going to bring the MMA community the most amazing and talented athletes in fights that will make you jump out of your seat!
Toole is also bringing his team with him. Ian Valencia, who has been with Island Fights forever handling numerous jobs within the promotion, will be assuming a post as what can be deemed Fighter Liasion. He will be helping with travel, medicals, dealing with the commissions. All of this isn’t new to Valencia, he will continue to be Toole’s, right-hand man. Also coming along is Devin Adams who has been matching Island Fights amateur cards for quite some time under the watchful eye of Toole. He will be helping Toole with scouting in some capacity. I will also be following Toole and the crew to iKON as their ring announcer. I am beyond excited for this new show. Yes, it will have a familiar feel for all of us which is nice, but this is all-new, and we are all up for the challenge of taking something from the beginning and turning it into the best show out there.
Island Fights isn’t going anywhere by the way. The promotion will shift gears a bit and focus more on their amateur shows where talent will be developed and if our amateurs have what it takes, they will be making the jump to Island Fights pro shows as they begin their professional careers. Yes, pro shows will also take place as Island Fights still has a deal of its own with Fight Pass, Toole didn’t build his company just to close it down. He loves the work, he eats, sleeps and breaths fights, and now he will be busier than ever, and for him that makes him happy!
Mixed martial arts fighting continues to grow at a steady pace. The athletes we see making their way up the ladder are going to be better than those that are fighting at the highest levels today because this next wave of fighters has been training to fight since they were little kids. They didn’t start at 13 or 14, they started at 3 and 4 years old and focused on being MMA fighters rather than a wrestler who picked it up, or a jiu-jitsu practitioner who added striking.
The future is here, and iKon is going to bring it to you, now!
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.