Lion Fight CEO Scott Kent Talks Muay Thai, His UFC Relationship and Giving Up Tradition For TV Exposure
By Rick Caudle
Muay Thai Lion Fight promoter gives a mighty roar as CEO, Scott Kent talks to us about the success of the East Coast Show, partnering with the UFC, and their business plan for the future.
Rick Caudle: How did the opportunity to partner with the UFC for their fight week in Vegas come about?
Scott Kent: It was actually about a year in the making. I hired Jen Wenk as a PR person, who had previously worked for the UFC, and she was instrumental in setting up a meeting. We met with Dana and Lorenzo and they thought it was a great idea. It was a chance to expose the fans to an international sport. Most of the MMA fighters train in Muay Thai for their stand up game so the fans were somewhat familiar with it.
RC: Are the UFC owners looking to get into the Muay Thai business and buy into Lion Fight?
SK: Not at all. They have their hands full with the biggest combat sport there is and are concentrating on worldwide expansion. It’s great that they gave us the opportunity to present these world class Muay Thai fighters.
RC: If you could have any current UFC fighters cross over to Muay Thai into Lion Fight, which would you choose and why?
SK: I think it would have to be Anderson Silva. He has a history of Muay Thai and has stayed committed to the art since he started. He has great Thai Boxing skills and is exciting to watch. In fact, his Muay Thai trainer, Vitelmo Kubis, will be fighting for us on July 7th. Anderson will be there as well.
RC: Have any existing MMA stars approached you about crossing over? If so, which fighters?
SK: There has been a few people’s management that has called us to test the water but I can’t really say much about it because everyone is still under contract. But, we did have Chris Cyborg come over who was an MMA champion. She is one of the baddest females on the planet in MMA, but was willing to come aboard and face world class Muay Thai fighters. She has a lot of heart and I have a lot of respect for her.
RC: How are ratings on AXS TV for Lion Fights thus far? Can you give us any specific numbers?
SK: We don’t have Neilson ratings, but from talking to AXS I know they are very impressed. In fact, the 4th of July show will be celebrated as their 250th Fight Broadcast. We’re in negotiations for future shows as well.
RC: Could we see Lion Fight on a broadcast network like FOX in the future?
SK: Right at this moment I really don’t know. We are concentrating on our contract with AXS TV, but possibly someday in the future.
RC: Which fighter do you feel is the single best representative for the sport of Muay Thai and why?
SK: Our business plan is to bring in top international Muay Thai fighters and at the same time, grow U.S. fighters as well. We want to bring credibility to Muay Thai in America and with fighters like Kevin Ross and Tiffany Van Soest we’ll be able to do just that. They have both signed up to fight the best fighters in the world, and on July 4th, they’ll be our Main and Co-main events. Kevin will be fighting Michael Thompson, an Australian Intercontinental and Muay Thai Champion, for the Super Lightweight Title. In the Co-main event, Tiffany will be facing Italian Muay Thai Champion, Sindy Huyer.
RC: Any chance we’ll see Joe Schilling back in Lion Fight any time soon?
SK: I don’t think so. We re-signed Joe for three fights and he went 0-3. I enjoyed working with him. He is fighting in Glory now.
RC: Lion Fight used to play the traditional Muay Thai music during fights but since it partnered with AXS TV, you no longer hear the music. What happened?
SK: Being on TV, there are some things you have to give up. We like to expose fans to the beautiful cultural aspects of Thai Boxing, but there is the time restraint. TV time is expensive so you can imagine the cost of 12 fighters doing the Wai Kru. The fighters come in before the event and seal the ring, etc. There are some things the U.S. audience wouldn’t understand but we will educate the fans as we grow. We don’t mind making some concessions because the most important thing right now is to get the sport going on television.
RC: How do you respond to traditionalists who get upset with the fact that the music is no longer played?
SK: We haven’t really had any complaints. Some fighters have asked about it, and we respect their opinions, but there are just some things we can or can’t do right now. As I said, it’s most important to get Muay Thai out there so folks can see it. Our biggest interest is to give competitors opportunities and promote the sport. We will have some surprises in the near future and be looking to add new locations. We were very happy when we went to the East Coast and saw fans wearing Lion Fight T-shirts. We love it when we find people who share our passion for the sport. You know, 15 or 20 years ago, America wouldn’t have been ready for it, but many people were just waiting for an organization to promote Muay Thai. We appreciate very much the support of the fans and are excited to see where the evolution of this great sport takes us in the next few years.