Interview: Ragan McDaniel – B3 Sports

“I do the right thing, even if it means stepping on people’s toes.”

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Ragan McDaniel

Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack

You know Ragan McDaniel.  He’s that guy that’s always having fun.  The guy that, no matter what the situation is, makes you feel at ease.  Ragan is the guy that gives out nicknames to his friends.  He’s the guy that’s great at picking on you, and even better at getting picked on.  He has fun.  He’s like the adult version of a frat guy.  You know Ragan McDaniel, he’s the guy you want to hang around.

Sure, Ragan may like to have fun, but don’t mistake that for not caring about what he does.  Ragan gets things accomplished.  He makes things happen.  He makes sure that everyone has everything they need.  In his own words, “I take care of people, that’s what I do”.

I met Ragan shortly after we launched this site, and believe me when I tell you, the guy gets things done. He’s an asset to our sport and to the MMA scene here in Houston.  He also happens to be one of the best managers in the business.  Not just because he loves the sport of MMA, but because he loves the fighters he represents even more.  He’s a sharp guy with a down home attitude, but he’ll tell you what’s on his mind, all you have to do is ask.  So I did just that.  We sat down one evening and talked about MMA, the fighters, the misconceptions of managers and what it takes to make it in the business.

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TCD.net:  How did B3 come about?

Ragan: It actually started with Chad Robo.  He used to promote fights in New Orleans, and one day were talking and he said, “You’ve got the personality to manage people, and they don’t have that around here, somebody that actually knows what the hell they are doing.”  So talking with him was a start, then some fighters that I know and some sponsors like Beat2Sleep all agreed to circle around me. They said I had the personality needed to do this, because in their words, I’m “crazy and just don’t care about what people think.”  Plus they know I do the right thing, even if it means stepping on people’s toes.

TCD.net: I’ve got to ask, how did you come up with the name “B3”?

Ragan: The names of my kids, all three of them start with a B.  My wife came up with it.  It was going to be called something like ultimate management or something stupid like that. Thank god she came up with it.

TCD.net: Why did you choose Houston as the home base of sorts for your management company?

Ragan: I moved from Louisiana in 1996. I had moved here to take over my dads engineering company.  As B3 started to grow, it started to compete with my work at the engineering company.  At that point, my dad said he would make sure I was taken care of financially, so I could focus on B3 full time.  I was very very fortunate to have that support financially because anybody that’s in this sport knows it’s not a money making business.

TCD.net: So, if you’re not in it for the money, why do you do what you do?

Ragan: I love the sport, and I love taking care of the fighters.  I mean think about it, me being a manager I get 10 to 15 percent of a fighter’s purse, so if a guy is getting $500 for a fight, the $50 I get isn’t going to pay the bills. I do it because I love it.

TCD.net: How many fighters do you have under contract?

Ragan: I’ve got 29 Pro fighters currently under contract with me from all over the country.  I even have some amateur fighters under contract, but that’s not really that big of a deal because of their status as amateurs.

TCD.net: So why have an amateur under contract if it’s not important and you can’t make any money?

Ragan: When I started offering contracts to amateurs, I was very selective of who I would talk to. I help out so many guys in Texas and Louisiana just to help out.  Either because I respect them, the trainers they have or the gym they are at.  With amateur fighters, they can’t get paid, so there is never any money exchange.  I just do it because I want to help guys out.  A lot of these guys have so much potential, but they are being led the wrong way.  Either they don’t know any better or somebody is pushing them in the wrong direction.  So with my experience and connections, along with the people that work for me and with me, it’s very easy for me to take these fighters and put them in the situation that they belong in.

TCD.net: How big do you plan to grow your stable of fighters?

Ragan: I want to stay around 35 contract fighters.  That’s what I’m comfortable with, but it changes.  I mean, I help out a lot of guys not under contract with me too.

TCD.net: Who would you say are the top 5 B3 fighters in regards to ability, exposure and experience?

Ragan: National rankings and what people think might be different than what I think.  In no particular order, Rich Clementi, is very successful and everybody knows about him. Another would be my best friend Chad Robichaux.  He’s 8-0 and now with Shine Fights.  He’ll be fighting on March 6th in Vegas.  Others on the list are Marcio Cruz (a former UFC heavyweight champion out of Gracie Barra in Florida; David Viera is another Gracie Barra blackbelt), also Todd Moore out of Gracie Barra The Woodlands.

Two of my best up and coming pro fighters are Levi Forrest and Adam Schindler.  Levi is 5-0, and he is fighting for the LFC title in March against Mike Bronzoulis.  Adam is out of Power House in San Antonio, and he’s already the UKC 155 title holder.  He also just won the STFC 155 title last month.

I also can’t forget Ricco Rodriguez who is fighting in New Orleans now.  He’s another former UFC heavyweight champion.

TCD.net: What about just Houston.  Who would you say are your top up and coming Houston fighters.

Ragan: Again, in no particular order I’d have to include Levi Forest.  Also, Ray Trujillo out of Metro; he’s fighting for a title soon.  He’s a solid fighter with very few weaknesses.  When Andrew Craig does finally turn pro, he will immediately become my number one up and coming fighter.  He’s that good now and he’s only going to get better.  Jace Pitre is another hot B3 prospect.  He’s one of the most talented professional fighters I’ve ever worked with.  He’s 1-1 now because he lost to a great fighter in Jesus Rivera (who, by the way, had a great game plan that Bob, Jeremy and the guys at 4oz put together), but Jace is probably the most well rounded fighter that I work with.

TCD.net: How many fights do B3 fighters have per year?

Ragan: Probably somewhere around 45 fights a year.

TCD.net: Why should a fighter choose B3 Sports management to represent them?

Ragan: They should choose B3 Sports because just like everyone else, I’m a fan of the sport.  I don’t sit behind a desk and try and see how much money I can get out of a fighter or a sponsor.  I go to gyms and talk to trainers; I go to fights, hell I even roll with these guys.  I try and make sure that they are in the position that they should be in.  I don’t look for the glamorous big name match ups all the time; I look for what’s best for the fighter.

Too many people are misinformed about what I do as a manager.  They see these movies and TV shows and associate a manager with being somebody like Don King.  People think a manager is going to come in and screw them over.  They think a manager is going to get them in a fight, take their money and leave them high and dry.  That’s what Hollywood has led them to believe.

It’s really the opposite.  When I go into a gym, I work with the trainers and gym owner to find out who they think is ready to fight.  That’s my chain of communication.  I don’t go around anybody.  Everybody at the gym (or fight club) is on the same page and the fighter has the last say so.  With a lot of these management companies, they sign the fighter and then say, ‘Here, I’ve got you set up with this big name fight, you need to sign this”.  With me, I usually say, “I’ve got this fight for you, do you want it?  If you want it, I can get it”.  I don’t put the pressure on the fighter.  If he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it, we’ll find him something else.

Somebody gave me a tag line a while back, and it kind of stuck.  They said something to the effect of ‘B3 is a place where fighters get treated like family’.  That was a huge compliment to me because that came from one of my fighters.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the relationships.  When it comes to my fighters, I’m their manager, but I’ve been known to be the dad or the older brother also.  I’ve gotten calls in at 2 in the morning from guy crying saying that they couldn’t talk to anybody else.

I’m always there for them.  I’m the average everyday guy, I just happen to have a lot of really good contacts.

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TCD.net: What about those guys that think they can get big money fights without a manger?  What advice do you have for them?

Ragan: You see all these Internet posts that say things like, “It’s ridiculous for a fighter to have a manger.  The manager is only going to take your money”.  That’s just juvenile.  If you look at any fighter that has made it, there is a reason they have a manger.  If somebody is making $500 to fight, do they really think a manger is going to come in to try and steal $50?

My job is to make sure that everything is handled, so that all they have to do is train.  I handle everything, all the way down to getting them the walk out music.

I had a guy come up to me at a fight about a year ago and say to me, “You’re getting these fights for these guys, but that’s my job, they train at my Gym”.  I said, OK lets talk about this; let’s talk about the fight purses that I’m able to get him versus what you can get him.  He said, “Well, I got one of my guys 300/300 (fight money/win bonus), and that was for his debut”.  I explained to the guy that I got the same fighter 700/700 (fight money/win bonus) PLUS $1500 in sponsorship money.  Do you think he’s complaining about paying 10% (or whatever it is) and making what I got for him, versus giving you a handshake and making $300?

To a fighter, it IS about the money. It has to be, and I understand that.  I don’t get my fighters these high purses thinking, “what is my 10 or 15 percent going to be?” I get the purse for them thinking, “this is what they deserve”.

TCD.net: Other than getting fighters the most money for a fight, how does having a manager help them?

Ragan: No fighter is going to get into the WEC, UFC, Strikeforce or Shine unless you have somebody handling your business.  It’s not going to happen.

For example, I talked to one company, and said, “I’ve got a guy up in North Dallas, he’s great, you guys should look at him”.  There next question was, “Do you manage him?”.  My response was, “No, he’s gym managed”.  Their response was, “Great, when you take over his career, call us back.  Until then, I’m not dealing with a trainer and trying to set all of this up.”

TCD.net: Is that because the trainers don’t understand the process?

Ragan: Exactly.   A promoter knows that if they call me, they can handle EVERYTHING in one five minute phone conversation.  Where as, if they call a gym, or a trainer or even a fighter, they are going to have 100 questions.  A trainer is going to have to go back and forth [between the fighter and the promoter] a lot to get everything taken care of.

I can do all that in one phone call, hell even an email.  I handle everything from their contract negotiations, their sponsors, their apparel, their advertising, everything; and what do they do?  They sign their name for a fight contract, and they train.

TCD.net: At what point would you advise a fighter to stop working and go full time in fighting?

Ragan: When he’s comfortable enough to survive on a fighter purse then I would advise him to go full time.  Those guys are few and far between.

TCD.net: Realistically, how many fights should the average (or above average) fighter fight in a year.

Ragan: If they don’t get hurt, I suppose they could fight as often as every two weeks.  Depending on the state they fight in, they could fight every week.  I don’t like guys fighting once a month.  I think that’s way too much.  I like my guys to fight maybe once a quarter.  I mean, some guys fight more because financially they have to.  I’ll continue to help those guys and get whatever I can for them, but they’re not going to get to that next level fighting that much.  You hear it a lot, the saying “a fighter only has so many fights” so why use them all up.  It’s not just about how many fights you have, but who you have fought.  I should add that the TDLR is going to restrict how often you fight, depending on if you get cut or hurt.

Along those same lines, I’ve had some big shows, come to me and say, “I like this guy who’s 10-0, but I REALLY like this guy who is 5-2.” On the outside looking in, you’d question the logic, but what they see is that the guy who is 5-2 had 4 fights against known quality fighters.

TCD.net: How does a fighter get noticed by an agent like you?

Ragan: From a pro standpoint, I know of every pro in the area.  I know something about each of them because I do my homework.  As far as getting noticed, just fight; do what you do.  I’m easily found.  I’m at these events, walking around, shaking hands and kissing babies.  I’ll talk to any fighter.  Any fighter who wants to talk to me, I’m available.

If you’re good, you’ll get noticed.  If you’re not good, you’ll get noticed. Market yourself.  Send me an email, and let me know where your next fight is.  I’ll help anyone who has the desire to make themselves better.

TCD.net: Why don’t we see the lighter weight fighters getting the same purses as the heavier fighters?

Ragan: That is an argument that I’ve had with people for probably the last 10 years.  The public perception is that the bigger guys are more exciting.  They think the bigger guys hit harder.  The average fan wants to see guys get knocked out.  It’s like NASCAR, they want to see the wrecks.  They don’t want to see a guy get submitted.

I don’t get it.  I mean, look at the last Ultimate Fighter show with the heavy weights.  Three minutes in to one of those fights, and those two fat bastards are standing there with their hands on their knees, it’s just terrible.

The lighter weight guys are bringing back the mixed martial arts to the sport.

TCD.net: Of the fighters you have under contract, who has the best chance of becoming the next big star and why. You can only pick one.

Ragan: Man, that’s a tough question, but it is Chad Robichaux.  The reason is because Shine Fights is finally going to get him the publicity he deserves on March 6th.  I’ve seen what he’s put in, and I know what kind of talent he has.  He’s going to show the world what he can do on March 6th.  He’s the most well rounded “little guy” that I’ve seen.  If given the opportunity, he’s going to be a superstar.

I know you said just one, but I want to include Derrick Krantz in the conversation.  I’ll have him under contract soon.  He’s one of the most talented and strongest guys; he hits so hard.  He has the potential, the look, the background and everything else to be great.  With the right situations he could be the next big thing.

So I’d say Chad right now, Derrick Krantz in the future.

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TCD.net: Have you ever had two of your fighters face each other, and if so, what is that like?

Ragan: I had it happen a lot with amateurs.  But recently at the King of Kombat, I had two contract fighters face each other.  What made it worse was that both of these guys where making their pro debut.  They ended up facing each other because their opponents dropped out.  The promoter came to me and explained the situation.  My immediate answer was “hell no”.  The promoter asked that I ask them and see what they thought.  Of course both of them are pro’s and fighters and where like, “Hell yes”.
It was tough to deal with because I didn’t want either of them to start off with a loss.  Before the fight, I made sure both of them had what they needed, but I didn’t give either of them any advice like I normally do (videos, etc.).  I tried to split my time equally, but I was always worried about what they were thinking.

I didn’t watch the fight; I just stayed in the back. It really hurt me to be in that situation, and I hope I’m never in it again.  Luckily neither of them got hurt and it all ended OK.

TCD.net: Why do you think there are so many 30 something fighters just now getting into the game?  It seems like many of the guys in our area who have a chance of making it are older.  Why is that?

Ragan: Man, that’s another great questions.   I think the thing is that many of them want to take care of their family versus trying to build a fighting career.  Also, I think it’s because it’s just now becoming more popular and you are seeing all these gyms popping up.  Now that it’s all more available, they are getting into training and discovering that they have some talent.

Another viewpoint is that these pro’s, especially the ones who are business owners, they have a reputation.  What you’re seeing is that these guys have spent the last couple of years getting their business set up, and now that they can take care of their family, they are missing it and want to go back.

TCD.net: can a pro fighter making his debut expect to make?

Ragan: If you don’t have a manager, you might get a few hundred dollars.  The promoters want to get the fighters as little as possible.  Their job is to hire the fighter for as little as possible.  There is nothing wrong with that, it’s business.  My job is to get the fighter as much as possible.  If I’m out of the loop, fighters tend to settle.  The thought process they have is, “Man, I’ve been fighting for free for the last 4 years, and now you want to pay me $300, sure!”

My job is to negotiate with them [the promoters].  I say, “No, if you want him, you need to pay more.”  I’d say 90% of my first time pro fighters are going to get $500 to fight and $500 to win.

TCD.net: How did you get involved with Legacy Fighting and what do you do for them?

Ragan: I was very lucky.  Mick Maynard and I started seeing each other at fights, and we just started to get to know each other.  It’s funny because we both saw the same thing in each other. He is the most honest and straight shooting promoter I’ve ever dealt with.  When I told him that, he told me that I was the most honest and trust worthy manager, that anytime I tell him something, I follow through with it.  So we tried to figure out how we could work together.

The advantage that I had is that Mick had already set all this up, he established the foundation.  I told him I would give him 100% of my focus to make this as successful as possible.

Mick is the owner and CEO of Legacy.  I am his partner and the director of production.  We do the match making together, we plan everything together.  It’s a fun job.

TCD.net: So what’s on tap for 2010?  What can we expect from Legacy?

Ragan: We are going to have 4 pro shows and 3 titles fights.  The first show will be in early March.  Everything we do is for the WOW factor.  When people eleave the fights, we want them to be like, “SON OF A BITCH that was fun!”

We really focused on making our first show the best it could be.  The fight card was great, and the first show was a lot more successful than we ever dreamed it could be.  I give Mick all the credit in the world, he is the top dog.

TCD.net: I hear you’ve got a gym that you are opening up soon.  Talk about that.

Ragan: Yes.  God has blessed me yet again as I once again find myself in the right place at the right time.  I’ve had people tell me that, since I spend all of my time taking care of others, good things continue to happen for me.  I really think that’s why things like the Legacy partnership and now this Gracie Barra gym are made available to me.

Chad Robichaux approached me and said, I want to open a gym and I’m looking for an investor.  I had him talk to my dad about it, and my dad decided to do it.  I was given the opportunity to help manage and oversee the operations of Gracie Barra Champions Forest.

It’s not my gym, but it’s a gym I’m proud to be a part of.  I feel lucky because it won’t affect B3 at all, nothing is changing with B3 Sports, I’ll still run it like I always have.  What it does do is allow me to do something that can afford me the opportunity to take care of my family now and in the future, and that is very important to me.


Learn more about B3 Sports Management by visiting their website at http://www.b3sports.com

You can get more information about the Gracie Barra Champions Forest gym by visiting www.MMAChampionsForest.com

You can also check Ragan’s monthly Q&A in Texas Fight News Magazine.  It’s a monthly column where he answers questions asked by fighters and fans from around the state of Texas.


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