One walk through the MMA World Expo may immediately draw you toward the interactive combat booths, like practicing your four-count combo on an Aqua Punching Bag, or trying on Roll Junkie's grappling apparel for Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Besides MMA-specific equipment and gear, other industries are aiming to capitalize on the continued rise of the billion dollar mixed martial arts industry. For instance, Chef's Cut beef jerky and health and chiropractic offices recognized the annual MMA summit as a prime location for targeted marketing.
And of course, many military organizations set up recruitment booths, as the common demographic for the Armed Forces aligns with the typical audience for televised MMA bouts: males aged 18 -34.
But the main event centered on Fighters Source, an international league for amateur MMA, which held its national finals at the expo. Amateur fighters from across the country competed in hopes of advancing to the World Championships. Anthony Medina, founder and CEO, says a lot goes into building the "NCAA of MMA." It involves collaborations, locking in top-tier sponsors for shows, and cultivating a following among MMA enthusiasts, a market dominated by the UFC, with Bellator as a distant second. Medina says his league has distinguished avenues for growth that the promotion giants can't dabble in. He lists all his takeaways from building a sports startup and why his company is supporting those who serve.