Fight Sport Asia takes an inside look at SuckerPunch Entertainment

With the recent surge of UFC signings, Fight Sport Asia decided to take an in depth look at one of the most recognized sport management companies in Mixed Martial Arts today.

SuckerPunch Entertainment was founded by Brian Butler in 2008. Fast-forward two years on and both Bryan Hamper & Shu Hirata joined Butler to become one of the sports premier establishments.

Following a successful career in ad agency, Butler decided to shut the doors after twelve-years and begin a new chapter in his life to form SuckerPunch Entertainment.

In 2005 Hamper founded Blue Chip Management, and since then has managed some of the sports biggest stars. Follow on five-years later, Hamper decided to merge his company with SuckerPunch and now they have become one of the biggest management groups in Mixed Martial Arts.

Hirata has been around the Asian MMA scene for a long time managing some of the top fighters in the sport. He also has close ties with top Japanese promotion DEEP, where he is responsible for TV licensing sales and sponsorship deals.

The company boasts an impressive roster filled with stars competing in the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, Invicta and many other organizations across the globe.

SuckerPunch recently signed Tatsuya Kawajiri, Doo Ho Choi, Katsunori Kikuno and Will Chope under their management. Since then Kawajiri, Kikuno, Choi and Chope have all signed with the UFC. And that happened in the space of just three weeks.

SuckerPunch also has a new Asian manager with Jeff Lee at the helm. With the help from international director Tiago Okamura in Brazil they were able to sign top prospect Jessica Andrade, who was last seen putting a vicious beat down on Rosi Sexton at last months UFC Fight Night 30.  The three managing partners – Brian Butler, Bryan Hamper, and Shu Hirata are looking to expand deeper into the Asian market in 2014.

When asked on what’s next for SuckerPunch:

Brian Butler

Long term goal for suckerpunch is to establish itself as the premier management group in this sport with a global presence. We are excited about our expansions into WMMA and now in the Asian market. Each of our managing partners brings a unique and valuable skill set to the table which truly gives our athletes the utmost security knowing their careers and interests are being looked after at the highest levels.

Bryan Hamper

SuckerPunch Entertainment is continually raising the standard of management in the sport of mixed martial arts. Our international expansion is another step in that direction. Our roster now boasts fighters from 8 different countries.

Shu Hirata

We have been working with international clients for a while so actually this is nothing really new to us. We understand the difficulty of communicating with fighters that does not speak English or not familiar with fighting outside their own country. That is the reason why the very first thing we make sure is to have appropriate staff that can handle detail communication with our foreign clients. For example, before signing Doo Ho Choi to our management contract, we asked kickboxing instructor / business man Jeffrey Lee to join Suckerpunch to handle our Korean clients.

One of the main reasons for us to expand in Asia is because of the increase of MMA popularity in that region, and of course, its because UFC seems to be expanding in Asia as well.

I also have small personal reason for doing this. From years of being in this business, I have seen, and I still do see many fighters from that part of the world that get stuck into a bad contract, and not getting what they really deserve. By Suckerpuch expanding in Asia, I am actually hoping that this would trigger some sort of trend among the MMA fighters in that region to realize his or her own rights. And of course, that’s including fighters that are not under our contract.

Doo Ho Choi holds his Management contract with SuckerPunch Entertainment

Recent signing Doo Ho Choi was contracted to Japanese giant DEEP but with the help of SuckerPunch, Choi was free to test his skills in the worlds leading Mixed Martial Arts promotion; UFC.

Doo Ho Choi actually had four years remaining on his DEEP/CMA contract, but thanks SuckerPunch they were able to convince/negotiate a special deal where DEEP/CMA/Suckerpunch can be a ‘Team’ and give Doo Ho Choi an opportunity to showcase his skills inside the Octagon.

This could never have been executed by any other management company because it required heavy experience at dealing with DEEP/CMA in Japan and Korea, while communicating with the UFC.

Fight Sport Asia interviews SuckerPunch clients Yuta Sasaki & Katsunori Kikuno:

Shooto standout (Yuta Sasaki)

Former DEEP Lightweight Champion (Katsunori Kikuno)

You can follow SuckerPunch Entertainment (suckerpunchent.com) and on Twitter (@SuckerPunchEnt)

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Photo credit: SuckerPunch Entertainment
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Categories: Asian MMA, Featured, MMA, Other, UFC

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