Exclusive Interview with Mike Davis of Cut Throat MMA

Posted by Matt Giancarlo on March - 12 - 2011 with 1 Comment

This is an exclusive interview with the long-time promoter of Cut Throat MMA, Mike Davis.  For the first time, Mike Davis has been formally interviewed.  Previous to this date, Mike Davis has never agreed to any interviews, however I, Matt Giancarlo of ChicagoMMA.net has been the first to do so.  There’s years to catch up with regarding information, so I hope you enjoy reading.

ChicagoMMA: I’ve been to quite a few of your live events and did some research before the interview, and was surprised that I didn’t find any old interviews of you, is there a reason for that?

Mike Davis: Well, I have actually avoided doing any and all interviews up until this point in my promotional career. I have been quoted in news articles and magazines, but never a straight forward interview. I have been asked quite a few times but have always intentionally gotten out of it.

Is there a reason for that?

Well, initially I was of the forethought that the fans needed to push your product, rather than the person telling everyone they meet about their promotion. I just figured I would let the fans wave the Cut Throat flag. Until recently, I haven’t been too vocal about Cut Throat, even on my own personal FaceBook page. However I believe that now is the time to come forward and captain the ship.

So this is your first interview ever?

Yes and please ask me anything.

The Cut Throat brand has been around for years now. Not many people realize it, including the majority of “newbie” mma media reporters. From the clothing, to promoting fights in the area for over 10 years now, can you educate those who are unaware exactly how long Cut Throat has been around, and how you got started?

Man… I started as a huge fan of the sport and was asked by a couple of friends to teach them how to box, because they wanted to start fighting (I boxed from the age of 8-18). Being a really responsible person, my duties constantly changed with my group of friends. First it was, “get us fights”, then it was “we need clothing” (at the time there was only Tap Out and Victory), so I started a Cut Throat clothing line. From there it went from making T shirts and shorts into organizing fights in order to give them a consistent venue to fight at. Up until that time I participated and helped out at a few hundred boxing events, it was a natural fit. I have been involved in the sport of MMA since 1999 and will be involved in it till the day I die. I live, breath, and eat a sport that I now consider an obsession.

Many people also do not know that aside from the recent wave of south-side Chicago and Northwest Indiana, you’ve also have worked everywhere from Peoria, IL, to Russia, to Costa Rica. Care to touch up on that?

Internationally I have worked for BoDog Fight, ADCC, Fight Force (Russia), Fite Nite (Costa Rica), MAXXfc (Puerto Rico) and periodically for the IFL. One of my biggest strengths in life is being resourceful and coming through in pressure situations. I was fortunate to hook up with Dave Strasser, Bob Long and Miguel Iturate very early in my career, and they always pushed me to the forefront whenever they came across or worked for a promotion that had some legs and needed help. I don’t believe there is a situation involving a live event that I haven’t encountered at least once and have always reacted properly to it.

Who are some of the biggest MMA stars now a days, that you’ve worked with in the past?

Well, I can go on and on about the fighters that I have worked with on other promotions, but I think I would rather just list the people that have fought for me under the Cut Throat banner. A few of them are:

Ryan Stonich WEC
Steve Lopez UFC
Mike Russow UFC Current
Eric Butterbean Esch Legend of TOUGHMAN/ Pride
John Kolosci UFC, TUF, Bellator, Strikeforce
Jay Estrada IFL
Daisuke Hanazawa Pancrase
Achour Esho PRO BOXER
Danny Gilbert TRAVELED THE WORLD
Kevin English IFL
Todd Brown UFC
Kieth wisnewski UFC
Dorian Price TUF
Darren Elkins UFC
Dan Keenan BELLATOR
Joe Benoit WEC
Tommy Lee WEC
Jonatas Noveas STRIKEFORCE

I’m sure there are more, but off the top of my head that is what I can recall.

As a fan of MMA since UFC 6, a fighter, and someone who has worked for local promotions myself, I somewhat consider Cut Throat to be the “bad boys” of local MMA, almost the ECW of mixed martial arts. What do you think of my statement, would you agree or disagree?

I take that as a compliment and actually appreciate you referring to us as that. You see, there isn’t an MMA organization in the Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana area that is not backed by a gym other than us. We are the region’s only independent place to fight that isn’t clouded by any affiliation to a gym. Due to that fact we don’t have the gyms resources (many students with varying backgrounds) in order to make an event happen, it makes us a little more creative than your average promoter.
It’s actually an awesome feeling Tony and I get when we announce a fight that people in the region say “holy shit” that is going to be a war. We pride ourselves on having 2-3 fights and crowd chanting throughout the night. Our crowd is like no other, they are educated and love its fighters, even in the UFC it is rare to hear someones name chanted throughout the venue. It happens 2-3 times a night at every one of our shows. I love our fans and get chills when they do that, I believe that is why we should be compaired to the ECW.

I’ve noticed that the majority of other local MMA media websites seem to advertise and cover many other local promotions, but avoid Cut Throat.  Perhaps it’s all my imagination, but what’s your opinion on that?
Well… I guess the vanilla part of the interview has ended

How do you feel about somewhat being ignored?
The truth is if they were to call the following outlets: MoreMMA, MMAGospel and the one they are reading this article on right now, they would know the truth behind who the biggest MMA organization is in the Midwest.
Now I can be a dick and tell all of them to fuck off, however the bitter reality of the situation is that I am forced to eat shit, smile and pretend that their 200 unique visitors a month actually mean something. There is one that I really don’t care for, but even they are welcome at any of my shows.

Even with minimal media personal reporting your events, you still seem to have a larger fan base than pretty much all of the other local promotions, possibly combined. What do you think is the reason for that?
First off thank you for acknowledging that, I try and not to sound bitter when in reality everything is going well with us. What you said is a true fact. Take my 3 largest competitors, combine their FaceBook fans and the unique hits they get on their web site you will see that we still have more fans and followers than they do.
There is a formula for what it is we do and we are constantly tweaking it.
One of the reasons is that we know how to tell a story, you cant pull a guy off of the street and give him a title fight (promoters please take notes) and pretend that you are a credible organization.
Secondly, we have several different venues from NW Indiana, Central Illinois, Chicago all the way to Naperville with only one title holder. When you wear a belt bearing our name, you earned the fuckin thing.
When we have a show that falls short of its expectations, and just like the UFC, we have had them in the past. We literally get emails and phone calls from our fans telling us that Cut Throat is better than what they saw the previous night. As much as it hurts reading the emails and answering the phone calls it pushes Tony and I to constantly push our talent and challenge our resources both in and out of the cage.
I believe that is what we can attribute our hard work to, not wanting to answer the phone the next day and have to answer to the people that we respect and rely on the most, our fans.
The local media that ignores us is generally made up of guys trying to get into the event for free because they have a fancy domain name and pretend that their exposure is what our events need in order to make Cut Throat successful. Meanwhile they hawk other promotions tickets, train at their gyms, sponsor the promotions they cover and swing at the promoting schools nuts pretending as if they are an independent media source.

Especially with amatuers, many local promotions have completely different fighters on their cards at each event. Why does Cut Throat have more of a set roster?
I am known for NEVER and I mean NEVER canceling one of my cards. When the commission first started regulating MMA in Illinois other promoters would do events with 4 fights or less because they couldnt get their paperwork and the fighters stuff together for the state. Due to my international experience as a promoter the process is easier for me to tackle than most other people.
Can you imagine having a huge group of people there to watch the fights and all you have is 4 fights and a laser show? As a promoter, every single person at that event should be going to the next event for free or getting a refund on their way out. I believe that it is your duty as a promoter to have a healthy locker room and a happy fan base.

A big difference between Cut Throat and nearly any promotion period, is that Cut Throat focuses mostly on amatuers rather than 100% pro cards. Why is that, and aside from the rules, what are the biggest differences that you see between pros and ammys?
Well, to a degree there is some truth in that statement but there is also a method to our madness. You see, long before commissions existed I was doing pro shows for a long long time. Once a new rule or regulation takes place I like to let the dust settle before I dive into the situation. I plan on doing at least 6 pro shows this year and possibly 25 amateur shows. The reason for the large number of ammy shows is due to the fact that I like to scout the talent from their early fights and literally help them build a fan base. Once that fan base is solid and they have proven themselves as a fighter I swing them to the pro side. Anyone wearing one of our amateur belts can hang with any of the regions mid level pro’s, our talent pool is deep and our fighter are already exposed to the big show feel.

What do you think other local promoters think about you?
I dont believe I have any friends that are other promoters. There are some that raid our web site rankings trying to create fights that they pretend were theirs to begin with. There are others that get on our live internet feed and talk shit about us as well as some that pay us no mind.
The truth of the matter is, I’m concentrating on tomorrow rather than celebrating yesterday. We are innovators of many things that other promotions are now copying; free live internet feeds and promo’s are at the forfront. Instead of getting upset I feel that imitation is the highest form of flattery, it really only makes us push the envelope even harder.
If you think we dont have HUGE announcements coming up within the next 4 months you are out of your mind or have severly underestimated us.

Since you’ve been around longer than pretty much any local promotion, I can ask you this question: What annoys you the most about other local promotions?
Honestly I have no idea. I don’t even pay attention to what they are doing as promoters. However there is a promotion that had an opponent pull off of a title fight 2 weeks before hand. and they pulled remaining fighter who we refer to as “the Monopoly Guy” into the cage as if he were fighting that night (hands wrapped, fight shorts on and a hoddie pulled over his head) and crowned him champion.
What’s funny is that Tony ran into the guy a week later and he was wearing his belt outside at a social event and was told by the guy that he had just fought and is currently undefeated as a fighter. Things like that that I find more humerous than annoying, however anyone that has a win over TBD I am a huge fan of. When they are doing things like that however, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that we are Illinois and Indiana’s best promotion.

Now to turn this into a “nice interview”, what promotions do you enjoy watching? Doesn’t have to be local, could be as big as the UFC, or a fight that you saw among 2 kindergarteners at recess.
I literally am glued to the TV with all of the big promotions. There aren’t too many events I don’t catch on the television. My addiction has gotten even worse  since getting a Roku box… I always get excited when fighters from our previous events fight on TV.

If you could put together a super-fight between 2 fighters that have fought for Cut Throat, from the day you started until now, both in their prime, what matchup would that be?

Man… I could be a total mark and mention a UFC vet versus another UFC vet but that would be too easy. The super fights that I would love to make are:
TJ Rowley – Joe Benoit
Donald Williams – Mikey Welch

Matt Kucala – Dan Aguirre
Please believe me that if any of those fights were to happen, I would be sitting cage side beside myself. Much like I was at our last event when we had Larry DiGulio – Danny Aguirre as well as  Steve Patterson – Justin Ruggio on the card.
Daily, Tony and I will talk about potential fights like the above mentioned and their possible outcomes. I believe that it is conversations like that make us special as a promotion, we actually care about what we put on inside the cage.

What are your top 3 favorite Cut Throat fights that have ever taken place?
Leo Husaric – Justin Ruggio
Leo Hussaric – James Arva

 

Danny Keenan and Todd Javorski
To leave Adam Ward – Martyn Jimenez off of that list would be really insulting. Every event we put on something special is gaurenteed to happen.

 

What’s your favorite venue to host fights at?
Every venue has its unique atmosphere, however the three that I am most proud of are 115 Bourbon Street, The Hammond Civic Center and DC’s Country Junction. Think about it; Bourbon Street has more bells and whistles than any other venue in the entire Midwest. The history and tradition behind the Hammond Civic Center is second to none, and DC’s is a dirt floor barn where you piss in a trough. I love all three of those places.

As for the latest local pro show at the Hammond Civic Center, did the fights go the way that you expected? Any big surprises?
If you watch the promo’s we cut, I predicted that the DiGuilo – Aguirre fight would be fight of the night and was amped about the main event. There were actually a bunch of surprises that night. I thought the DelPrado –Muthart fight was going to be a 3 round war. As well as I was really surprised at how Nick Scotti and Kent Rexford performed that night. They came in as the pride of the Northwest Illinois and they both looked a little flat. I know that Wrecking Ball is a top gym in the state of Illinois and I really look forward to seeing how they perform in our future pro events as well as their amateurs on the others.

There is a Brawl at Bourbon Street on March 23rd. What can we expect?
Well, the main event speaks for itself, Ryan Storey wants this fight more than any other fight he has ever had in his career, in fact he even passed on turning pro in order to redeem himself. TJ Rowley believes that his arsenal of weapons is twice what it was when they fought the first time. The energy in the crowed that night is going to have a champioship feel to it, mark my words.
Other fights to watch on the card are Billy Johnsons last amateur fight against a very tough David Booth who recently impressed a lot of people with his submission victory over Matt Graham.
Also on the undercard look out for Jerry George and Jimmy Moreno. This fight might be one of those ledgendary fights Cut Throat puts on that everyone talks about.
I’m really excited to see Tony Bertolli and Jake Frias make their Cut Throat debuts, I have feeling that both of them are going to be making a run at the top three by the end of the year.

Usually whenever I fight at Bourbon Street, every single person that I know tells me that they saw me on a poster… The posters are advertised almost everywhere in the area. How soon before the event posters invade Swap-O-Rama?
Lol, I used to love buying pen knives, Chinese stars and other illegal weapons there as an underage high school kid. Believe it or not, a guy that fought on our last card had a buddy that owns a booth there and our poster was displayed prominently. I thought that it was awesome. We have a science to postering and flyering that carries to every event and we dont get away from it.

Vanilla Ice vs Igor Vovchanchyn in a rap battle, who wins?
Unfortunatly most of the other press reading this would have no idea who Igor is but the truth of the matter is the memories that guy gave me as a child are second to none.
Igor all the way. However if Harold Howard was scratching records behind Vanilla Ice at the time it would be what they refer to as “a Rap Battle”.

Any last words you’d like to say? Anyone to thank? Anyone to tell off without being censored?
Well I’m sure there’s quite a few people mad at me already, but if you want one more here it is.

All gym owners please be aware of someone peddling exposure and the promise of sponsorship dollars to your buff male fighters. He is an elderly, overly botoxed queen that is more interested in what’s between their legs than he is letting you borrow his used gym equipment. I’m serious that guy scares the shit out of me, keep him out of the dressing room and your students away from him.

On a serious side, not that I wasn’t serious with that last statement, I would like all of the gyms that have always stood by us through thick and thin no matter what someone has said or waived in their faces.

Gilbert Grappling and Duneland Vale Tudo deserves a special thank you for carrying our promotion during the pre-Ultimate Fighter days. I truely believe that without those two gyms I wouldn’t be giving this interview today as a promoter.


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