After years in the industry, Jeff Salisbury, co-owner of Washington Title Fights and founder of promotion company Wylde Style Productions, knows how to pack people into a club or bar. So Salisbury set out to enhance the club experience, one left hook at a time, through their joint business venture WTF! Fight Club, a live MMA event where fighters face off against each other at a club or bar with a free after party to follow.
Salisbury’s expertise is in the promotions side of marketing an event, and by joining forces with a local Washington, D.C. area martial arts production company, Salisbury formed Washington Title Fights. Salisbury handles the ancillary details of pulling off a good fight night: the cage girls, the DJ, hiring the emcees and getting people in the door.
Because MMA fights are often scheduled around UFC’s schedule, Salisbury saw an opportunity to have the sports play off each other, with the hope of bringing more people as well as avid fans to the event. “I thought we could embrace it, giving all the people that go watch the UFC pay-per-views a reason to come out earlier and have a night of MMA,” Salisbury explains. “Also, when everyone realizes that our fights will always be on UFC nights with a UFC viewing party immediately following our fights, they will associate the two. So every time they see a UFC commercial it will subliminally trigger a thought about our fights.”
The first WTF! Fight Club event will be held August 28 at Fast Eddie’s in Centreville, Va., and Salisbury hopes to pack the 800-capacity two-level bar through grassroots marketing, radio advertising, social networking through Facebook, MMA websites and forums and “lots of flier-ing.” Tickets start at $25 -- with promo code "Palm," you can receive $5 off -- but go up to $500 for a VIP ringside table for eight. The night begins with MMA fights starting at 7:30 p.m., and an after party begins at 10 p.m., which includes the UFC viewing party, a Ultimate Fight Babe ring girl contest, a performance by the rap group Crackerpipe and music from DJ Casper, who will be there all night playing music for fighter intros and spinning songs for the dance party until closing.
As for safety conditions, all fights are sanctioned and insured. Salisbury emphasizes that the fighter’s safety is the number one concern with doctors checking each fighter out beforehand and with paramedics on site during the event. “We also use trained fighters that have trainers and corner-men to look-out for their safety,” he explains.
For Salisbury, this is a fresh idea, and he sees potential for it to grow to more and more venues. “I think this is an exciting new concept for MMA in the area,” he says. “These events are geared toward getting the word out about what an exciting and fun sport MMA is on a grass roots level. It is smaller and therefore more accessible than the UFC. It’s an all ages event until 10 p.m. and is cheaper than most all other MMA promotions that only offer a fight in a gym or similar setting.”
Though the first rule of any fight club is not to talk about fight club, Salisbury and Sylmar aren’t as coy. With the first event just around the corner, they hope everyone will be talking about WTF! Fight Club, and with all the entertainment and notable local emcees, DJs, bands and well-known fighters coming out, this event has all the makings to be an unforgettable night and a smart business move for Washington Title Fights and Fast Eddies.