With just over a day until the North American debut of Final Fight Championship, co-owner Jon Smith gave MMA Wreckage a few moments of his time. The powerhouse European promotion is looking to make it’s mark in America this coming Friday, June 3rd in Daytona Beach, Florida, and with lofty expectations, and top notch oversight, Smith gives us some insight on the debut event, the future of the promotion, and how FFC is looking to emerge as a known entity to all MMA fans.
JZ – First off John, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
JS – Totally, happy to talk with someone that knows the sport.
JZ – Now on June 3, not only will Final Fight Championship makes it’s North American debut, but it will do so on major network television (CBS Sports Network). Tell us how all of this unfolded for yourself and the entire FFC team?
JS – Simply put, the brand has been very well established in Europe and when I met the founder (who is now my partner) Orsat Zovko, I was massively impressed by his attention to detail. When we started to talk with CBS Sports they where very impressed with the production quality and it quickly became what we believe is the start to a long term partnership.
JZ – This card will showcase something not generally seen on the North American combat scene, a full slate of both MMA and kickboxing action. Was this type of card something FFC has always envisioned holding, or is this a North American treat for the fans?
JS – We actually started this format overseas, and it has worked very well for us. It will be new to an American audience…but I think they are going to really dig it.
JZ – In only a few short years, FFC has held nearly 30 events, including 5 intriguing Futures events. Can you explain how the ride has been in such a short period of time, to watch a promotion grow from an idea to what is it now?
JS – It has been amazing to watch the league grow, originally as a fan and now as an owner. I am personally really glad we are finally coming to the US, as we are getting to try a few new tricks for both the at home and live audience to enjoy.
JZ – Many North Americans will be enjoying the FFC brand for the first time this June, so can you tell the fans anything about the fighters your promotion currently holds and what to expect from a relatively unknown brand outside of Europe?
JS – We have over 200 fighters from all over the world signed to our promotion. Although the “promotion” is new to the US market, many avid fight fans will recognize a lot of both our fighters and on camera talent. For example Rico Rodriguez, a former UFC champ is ringside as a commentator, and in Springfield Michel Buffer will be with us. Not to mention fighters from the Blackzilians and American Top Team gyms.
JZ – With the success of promotions such as One FC (now One Championship) in their native countries and worldwide, how important is it to you and your team to stay firm to your roots in Croatia as you enter the global market?
JS – Very. We currently have offices in LA and Zagreb, and I never see that changing. I have been to Croatia many times and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Croatia also continues to be one of our best markets, and home to some of our greatest fans.
JZ – Not only are you making your North American debut on June 3, but only a week later, FFC will be in Springfield, Massachusetts. Is this something the fans should come to expect from the promotion, or are these events simply one-offs to test the waters in a new market?
JS – We are definitely testing the market and are considering doing US events back to back when we come here. That being said we are curious to see fans from both cities and what their take aways are.
JZ – A big thank you to you Jon and the whole FFC team for this. Are there any thank you’s or comments you would like to leave the fans in closing?
JS – Happy to have spent some time, and as far as the fans go we already appreciate the American support we have been given. Even if you cannot make it to one of these two shows watch the CBS Sports broadcast…you will not be disappointed.
Final Fight Championship 24 can be seen at 8pm EST, with a replay of the event beginning at midnight on CBS Sports Network.