Mixed martial arts fighting is not for everybody. It is a profession that has a short shelf life, an inherent risk of bodily injury, a low pay scale especially when first starting out, and on the business side some shady people that will take advantage of an athlete for their own gain. Not exactly as glorious as some make it sound. However, if you can accept all of the above, and still want to be a professional fighter that wants to compete at the highest level against the best fighters in the world, the next question you need to ask yourself is “How do I get there?”
The path is different for everyone, but what would you say if I told you that this long arduous journey that may take you down some very bumpy roads littered with weight cuts, road trips, athletic commissions, opponents pulling out, low pay and many other hurdles don’t have to be that way? What if I told you that a trip to an island where the sun shines, and your host is there to make sure that you get whatever you need to complete your trip and get you to your final destination actually exists, and is looking forward to your visit?
Well, that place really does exist it’s called Island Fights, and your host is Island Fights CEO Dean Toole.
Dean Toole is truly one of the good guys in this sport. He started Island Fights because he loves the fight business, and he knew that he could find the most talented athletes and provide them a better opportunity to achieve their dreams. Toole knows the fight business, has great connections and relationships in the industry, but the most important thing Toole provides for his fighters is actually caring about his fighters!
Don’t get me wrong, Toole isn’t the only promoter that cares, he just cares more. His fighters are like his children. He is there with them through the highs and the lows of their lives and careers. When you are down in the dumps because you lost, Toole will be the first person there to boost your spirits. When you win, he is right there to give you a high five. If you miss weight most promoters will drive the bus over you publicly whereas Toole doesn’t. He isn’t there to berate you for that kind of mistake. That is not to say he doesn’t get upset about it, he just doesn’t feel the need to trash you, he knows that you know you screwed up and will discuss it with you privately. Also, he will work with you again unlike some others in the industry. He understands that things happen in this sport, and will always give you another chance to redeem yourself.
Toole will never stand in the way of you getting to the UFC. He wants you to get there. It doesn’t matter if you are his biggest ticket seller or the most popular fighter on the roster, he will not stop you for his gain, unlike Terry Tribblecock who runs King of the Cage who is more concerned with making a few hundred dollars from ticket sales and truly don’t care about those that fight on his shows, other than caring if he can exploit you to make money off your work. Just ask Drako Rodriguez, a client of SuckerPunch who has been called to the UFC not once, but twice in the last 8 weeks and can’t go because Tribblecock won’t release him from his contract. That will NEVER happen at Island Fights.
I have the privilege of hearing some very interesting stories from numerous fighters at Island Fights because I work there as their ring announcer. Without divulging names I can tell you that many of our fighters have told me stories of how Dean has helped them with the rent, money for food, car repairs, legal issues, baby mama drama, paying for medicals, and all kinds of things, just like a father does for his kids, Toole does for his fighters. While I do work there, this is not a “fluff” piece to curry favor with my boss, these are facts!
Island Fights has become the launching pad to get to the UFC! Whether that means a bout on the Contender Series, or a short notice bout as a replacement to get you in, the point is these opportunities are there, and happening more and more as the promotion continues to grow and gain recognition in the industry as the last stop before the Octagon!
Brok “Chata Tuska” Weaver, “Platinum” Mike Perry, Hannah “24K” Goldy, Brandon “Killer B” Davis, Gillian ” Savage” Robertson, Alex “Spartan” Nicholson, Chase “Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman, Phil “The Fresh Prince” Rowe and Mike “BeastBoy” Davis have all made their way to the UFC after their stints with Island Fights, and if you ask them they will gladly tell you how much being at Island Fights helped them get there, and how great working with a promoter like Dean Toole really is.
It isn’t just the fighters that know of and will sing the praises of Toole and Island Fights, but also management companies like First Round Management, SuckerPunch Entertainment and Iridium Sports Agency who continue to reach out and send their clients to Island Fights because they know that the opportunity for their athletes to get to the top is there with Island Fights.
Jacob Kilburn, Impa Kasanganay, Sherrard Blackledge, Marcel Stamps are the next wave that will get to the UFC from Island Fights. While this seasons edition of Dana White’s Contender Series is coming to an end, we still have Kasanganay fighting on the show next week, which if he wins and gets a contract that will total 5 Island Fights alum making it to the UFC this summer.
If you are going to pursue MMA as a career just remember that you have to do things and make decisions that are the best for you at the end of the day. Why not work with a promotion/promoter that feels the same way about you as you do?
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.