An exciting new MMA promotion, Primal FC, held their inaugural event, “Dark Moon Rising,” in March of this year at Paradise Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Daniel Clemenson caught up with their Middlesbrough-born CFO, Steve Wilson, to ask him what his plans are for Primal FC, and what sets them aside from other MMA promotions?
Q: Tell us a little bit about your promotion Primal FC and how you differ from other MMA organisations?
A: Primal FC, as people saw from our first show “Dark Moon Rising”, was different from most MMA shows. We wanted to put on a ‘show’ in the truest sense of the word. That’s what sets us aside from other MMA promotions. We held ours on a beach, at sunset, in Phuket and threw a Full Moon Party after the fights. Primal FC wants to always put on a show and let the world see awesome locations, like Paradise Beach in Phuket. We will always try to break the mould and think outside the box when it comes to an event. To hold an MMA event in an arena, big or small, closes you into a certain degree. Four walls and a roof and that arena could be in Bangkok, Boston or the back end of nowhere. Throw an event on a beach or under skyscrapers and you set yourself aside from the closed in experience. This is what Primal FC is bringing to the world.
Q: What made you get into the fight game?
A: I’ve been a fan of MMA since I watched the first UFC on VHS as a kid and had my mind blown, back in Middlesbrough U.K. It was like watching real life Street Fighter 2. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve lived in Thailand almost three years and my business partner and I soon realised we are literally surrounded by fighters from amateurs to high-level pros, including UFC champions. The area of Phuket where myself and Joe Iozzi (from Perth, Australia) live, is a hive for fighters to come and train here. Three of the best gyms in the world are within a stone’s throw from us and we are very friendly with the owners of those gyms. Plus we meet the fighters all the time that come through our float tank centre. Joe first came up with the idea of an MMA show and the idea grew and grew. We learnt and got advice and quickly became MMA promoters. It’s been an exciting ride.
Q: How many fighters have you got on your roster and have any of them ever fought for mainstream MMA franchises like the UFC?
A: When it comes to the fighters, we are cool with everybody. The lead up to the event saw many applications for guys wanting to get a shot or add to their records. When the fighters saw the promo video of the cage on the beach the applications really came flooding in. Since the event has ended it’s gone crazy, the list of fighters we have to choose from is huge. Managers are putting guys forward, some of those whose records are staggering. Some of the talent that we had for our first event was easily the best card Thailand has seen for MMA. Our main event had Sarah Delalio, she has beaten the current UFC women’s champ Amanda Nunes, back in Strikeforce. Our co-main event showcased Shamil Akmehedov who trains at AKA, San Jose and was put forward by Javier Mendez himself. Adam Antolin has great pedigree being a contestant on the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter Season 24. Unfortunately, Zoila Frausta was going to headline our show, she was Bellator’s female world champion, but suffered a slight knee injury during her training camp. The standard was high and it will be higher still in the future.
Q: Are there any young prospects at Primal FC that you are particularly excited about that you feel can transcend the sport?
A: We did a lot of research when it came to selecting our fighters and we got some great names and also gave guys their debut. One kid stood out and luckily he was at Phuket Top Team, we can literally see Top Team from our office. Rafael ‘Ataman’ Fiziev. This guy went viral only a few months before our event when Dana White shared a clip of Rafael dodging a ‘matrix’ style kick in a Muay Thai fight he had recently in Thailand. The world saw this video and amazingly he trains 200m from us so we did our best to find an opponent. He steamed Suraj as was expected and since he got signed up to ROAD FC in Korea to fight in a huge tournament. He, unfortunately, broke his hand and was pulled out. Look out for his name. All his trainers and fellow fighters say he is legit. We know this, the world will soon.
Q: Where do you see yourself and the promotion in five years time?
A: Primal FC will be going international next year. We are building something special and going from an idea to a fantastic event in a few short months. The next year we will secure our name as Thailand’s elite promotion then it’s going to conquer Asia. I think within five years we will be snapping at the heels of UFC and Bellator.
Q: Do you have any upcoming events that you would like to tell us about?
A: Event number has been getting planned for a while, we are making strategic moves with this next event. We are making sure we have a solid foundation to build up from. Things went so well in “Dark Moon Rising” that we will have to put on a better show. We are loosely putting names down as potential fights but that’s just for fun while we strengthen our team so we can spread our brand across the globe.