By Katrina Belcher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next up in my series of interviews is Phil Lanides – an MMA Publicist who owns Fight of Your Life Communications.
FOYL works with several fighters, such as Lightweight MMA fighter Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (13-0), and Relentless” Roger Bowling (6-0) . FOYL also works with MMA-related organizations, such as Shine Fight Promotions , Xtreme Fighting Organization, (which is operated by “The Big Frog” Jeff Curran, a veteran of the UFC, WEC, PRIDE, and StrikeForce); the MMA Big Show; Gladiator Challenge, a world-class MMA promotion established in 1999 by Tedd Williams, who is a veteran UFC fighter; and X-1 World Events, a promotion founded in 2004 by Mike Mille.
In addition to managing his company and clients, Phil also finds time to write for the Examiner in San Jose, California. Please enjoy Phil’s in-depth responses to my questions!
Katrina Belcher: Please tell us a little bit about your company; how you got started and what it is that you do in the MMA-industry.
Phil Lanides: Fight of Your Life Communications is an MMA PR firm. To my knowledge, it is the only company like it in existence. There are other publicists that work within MMA, but they either have non-MMA clients, or they work for one big client (like the UFC or StrikeForce). So we’re quite unique. Basically, we utilize our writing skills, media contacts, and experience to get as much attention for our clients as possible. This is done through press releases, radio and TV interviews, and appearances. As far as how I got started, I was working within the PR world in another industry, and I decided I wanted to get media coverage for something I cared about, like MMA. I reached out to Kevin Iole, the MMA & boxing writer for Yahoo! Sports. He gave me some direction, and I was off and running. Fight of Your Life will celebrate its first year next month, and I’m excited about the future.
Katrina Belcher: What do you think is the hardest thing for MMA fighters who want to go pro?
Phil Lanides: The hardest thing fighters that want to go pro face is definitely getting to a point where they can train full-time. Getting enough sponsors and backers to make that transition is very difficult, but without it, a fighter will have trouble getting to the point of training at a high enough level to be a successful pro.
Katrina Belcher: What do you feel needs to change in MMA to make this sport better?
Phil Lanides: MMA is still very self-centered, in that the sport is not mainstream enough to get a lot of support outside of the sport itself. So we are constantly relying on the same resources to get funding needed to expand. This needs to change. Unfortunately, that takes time, and while that is happening, smaller promotions, which are the feeder leagues for the bigger shows, are falling by the wayside. There are many MMA promoters out there, but few have solved the riddle of staying in the business for the long haul.
Katrina Belcher: Do you recommend MMA fighters train just before a fight, or all the time?
Phil Lanides: Training all the time can lead to burnout. I think it’s best to have a solid two-month training camp if at all possible, and then let your body rest after the fight.
Katrina Belcher: Do you feel MMA will ever go mainstream?
Phil Lanides: MMA definitely now enjoys a level of mainstream acceptance. Look where it was before “The Ultimate Fighter” came along? The sport is huge now! But there is still some way to go before the sport is truly, truly mainstream. I’d like to see more fighters getting non-MMA sponsorships (like GSP with Gatorade and Under Armour) – that will be a big step, too.
Katrina Belcher: What does Phil Lanides do when he’s not working for his clients?
Phil Lanides: When I’m not working for Fight of Your Life clients, I am with my wife, hanging out with my family and friends, or at a church function of some kind…ha! Quite the life. But it’s nice to work from home, make my own schedule, and truly enjoy what I do. Not everyone is blessed enough to do that.
Katrina Belcher: What does 2010 have in store for you next?
Phil Lanides: I expect that 2010 is going to be a big year for myself and Fight of Your Life. My clients are growing, and Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm is poised for huge things this year! The company will continue to grow, MMA will continue to explode, and those of us working hard within the industry will benefit.
Katrina Belcher: Phil – thanks so much for this opportunity to interview you and find out what your company is all about – I so appreciate your time and dedication to your fighters and the sport of MMA!
Phil Lanides: Thanks – and let me know if you need anything else!