Alaska Fighting Championship is one of the longest running mid-level mixed martial arts promotions out there in the world today. The next event will be the 134th in the history of the league. Previously, it was only to be enjoyed by the 1500 or so locals that would turn up and enjoy a night of fights. Now, however, a deal with UFC Fight Pass has opened up the doors for Alaska Fighting Championship and allowed people from all over the world to tune in and see how mixed martial arts goes down in Alaska.
Make no mistake. When you switch over to Alaska Fighting Championship (AFC) on UFC Fight Pass, you’re not going to get the all-out high-level production that you will see from a World Series of Fighting or Invicta FC event. But, that’s what separates AFC from the rest. Alaska Fighting Championship is about fighting. The sole objective of AFC is to give local fighters the opportunity to compete and follow their dreams.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Sarah Lorimer, president of Alaska Fighting Championship, about a how AFC, an otherwise smaller promotion, has benefited from partnership with Bad Boy.
Can you tell me a little about your partnership with Bad Boy?
They’ve been absolutely awesome.
After we signed the UFC Fight Pass deal, we began reaching out to companies because we didn’t have official fight gloves. I wanted to be sure that everyone has new gloves before every single fight. That way, it’s fair across the board. Most of our fighters don’t even have the necessary gear. They don’t have cups or gloves.
We were one of the first organizations on UFC Fight Pass who were associated with Bad Boy.
Our partnership legitimizes our organization and our fighters. The fighters are so thankful for the gear that they receive. They sent us a box full a gear, all sorts of stuff. Immediately, I thought this is the kind of partner I want to have. We developed the gloves together.
Bad Boy is supportive of our fighters. When Bad Boy send out gear for the fighters, I go around to all the gyms handing it out and it feels like Christmas. These guys don’t have fighting gear.
It’s a great relationship because they help us, and I help them as well. I got connected with Ryan Stoddard. We’ve both been jacked by other companies in the past, so I told Ryan that Bad Boy has done us right. Ryan went to Mike and the Bad Boy team and now Victory FC is partnered with Bad Boy, as well.
How has the UFC Fight Pass deal helped Alaska Fighting Championship?
“Our league is a local homegrown league that is just trying to help guys get to the next level. It’s what we’ve been doing for the last fourteen years. But, it’s now easier for us because we are getting fighters from all over that want to come and fight in Alaska. It’s upped the competition level. The talent is awesome. It’s challenging our guys in Alaska.”
What do you love most about AFC?
What I love most about AFC is that it gives guys the opportunity to go and do bigger things. It’s not AFC who did it, it’s not me who did it. It’s these guys, their hard work. We just give them an avenue to do it. When I get to go and watch these fighters at big shows, the UFC, WSOF, Bellator, that gives me the biggest sense of pride and makes me so happy that we’re able to at least give these guys a starting point so that they can follow their dreams.
I also love the community. I love the fight community. It’s changed my life. I was a mortgage broker before I bought AFC. What AFC did for me, was allow me to raise my daughter. I can be at home, my office is at my house. The business side of it for me is what allows me to do those things.
What is the audience like at the events?
The people in Alaska, they just want to see blood. Locally, they don’t care. They are there for a night out on the town. It’s a networking opportunity. Casual fans just come along for something to do. You have the small percentage of diehards, but for the most part they are casual fans.
When I watch Alaska Fighting Championship, there is one guy that stands out. Can you tell me a little about Jordan Wright and what’s next for him?
Jordan is from Jackson-Wink in Albuquerque. He can’t get fights in his area. That’s why he is coming up to Alaska.
He’s right in line for the 185 title shot. He wants the shot. We have a vacant belt, due to an inactive champion. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for him. He’ll definitely make it to the big show.
Who else comes to mind as fighters that are really standing out?
Vince Fricilone stands out to me. He defeated Niko Novelli at AFC 131 and is now our 155 champion. He’s one of those sleepers. He’s coming and I definitely see him doing well.
Nick Novelli is going places, too. He just needs to get his head right.
Since we are only five and a half hour direct flight to Hawaii, I’ve been getting guys from there. I spend a lot of time there. It’s like a second home. I started going to gyms a few years ago and have now built relationships with all the big gyms there. One of the fighters, Tony Misech, he fought for my 145-pound belt and ended up beating my guy in an absolute war.
One of the fighters from Hawaii is down in Vegas right now doing Dana’s contender series, Cheyden Leialoha.
Is it bittersweet when fighters leave AFC to go and compete elsewhere?
People say that... But, it’s the whole goal. I’m not sad at all. There’s always more fighters. I can always find the next guy. But to see them live their dream, that’s the whole goal.
Are you able to ‘spot’ the fighters that are going to be successful and make it to the next level?
I knew with Jared Cannonier after about 2-3 fights that he would go places. It’s because of his work ethic. You can tell with guys. They get serious. They get down and dirty with their diet. He was working a full-time job with the government, training full time, raising two kids and being a husband. You can see the hard work. And his talent is off the charts.
Is there a plan for ‘Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight’ to return to Alaska?
I’d love it if Dana would return. They’re focusing on the Contender series at this time. But, we’ll see what happens.
Dana White loved us here in Alaska. We get along well and he gave us a shot on the show (DW: LFAF). He said that we’re the best mid-level promotion that he has ever been to.
What’s the story with TUF 24 competitor, Terrence Mitchell? He seems to have disappeared after his time on the show. Is he training?
He’s training. He’ll be back with us September or October.
In that fight (with Kai Kara-France), he actually had a completely severed Achilles tendon.
During the fight or before?
It happened before The Ultimate Fighter. They did not know. He passed all his medicals to get into the house. After getting knocked out, he spoke to the doctors about his foot being numb. They got him checked out more and found out that his Achilles tendon was severed the whole time. It was severed for 8-9 weeks before anyone knew.
Dana White said that although it didn’t happen on the show, he’ll get him fixed up. Terrence has undergone surgery and is now getting back into training.
At AFC 132, Kevin mentioned “unfortunately, there is no ‘awmbah bonus’. Is there ever going to be an ‘awmbah bonus’?
I don’t know. We might have to have one just so Kevin can say ‘awmbah’.
He’s been our commentator forever. It’s funny, because we get mixed reviews. Some people online are harsh. I think he’s great and knowledgeable. He’s been watching fights forever. It takes a special person to be able to commentate. I’ve tried. It’s difficult.
Now that Alaska Fighting Championship is on UFC Fight Pass, can you name some fights or events for us readers to go ahead and watch?
I’d recommend checking out some of DeMetrious Johnson’s fights. His story began in AFC. You’ll also get to see the early stages of us as a promotion, too.
AFC 130 had some really good fights.
Brian Ryan vs. Julio Paulino II was an intense battle between two legends up here in Alaska.
When does the next season of Alaska Fighting Championship commence?
It will begin in September and run through to May, just like always before. We will be announcing our season schedule on June 12, along with some other big news.