Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC), the east coast based MMA Promotion that is quickly taking over the entire scene is gearing up for CFFC 61 in which we will see two title fights and a ton of new talent taking center stage. This company has produced a ton of UFC fighters like Paul Felder, George Sullivan, Jonavin Webb and a lot more. Today we got the chance to sit down with one of the administrators and main guys in the promotion, Arias Garcia Jr (@CFFCariasgarcia) who is the matchmaker for the CFFC. So take a minute to get to know the man who is setting up these huge cards and helping to produce the future of MMA!
Hey Arias, first we wanted to thank you for sitting down with us as I know you are a very busy man! Take a second before we talk about this upcoming card and tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into the world of MMA, what it’s like being a matchmaker for one of the top promotions in the game and what are some of your favorite aspects about being the matchmaker?
Garcia: My father purchased UFC 1 on PPV and I was hooked. Been following it ever since and I’m just a huge fan. When I was in college, I was working for the biggest newspaper in South Jersey and did a lot of work on the sports page regarding editing box scores etc. I asked the sports page editor if I could write a story on a MMA show in Atlantic City in 2004. It made the paper and then I ventured out to writing for other MMA websites including ADCC News, MMA Weekly, and Sherdog. In 2010, I met with Rob Haydak and he took a leap of faith in me and gave me the opportunity to be the matchmaker for CFFC. He had a vision from the beginning and is great to see everything come to fruition.
Being a matchmaker is awesome and stressful at the same time. There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that go on that people have no idea. Some fighters are easier to deal with than others. One of my favorite aspects of the job is seeing a guy from CFFC do so well. I remember signing Jonavin Webb straight from the amateur leagues and him going undefeated in CFFC. I was with Rob when Joe Silva called him for Jon to fight on short notice in Australia for UFC. Rob called Jon over to his house and to be there when Jon got told he was in the UFC was one of my best moments as a matchmaker. And by no means do I think CFFC puts anyone in the UFC, but I think we provide a good platform for them to get noticed.
I would agree that the CFFC is a great platform. That is awesome about Jonavin and he has always been one of our favorite guys. Now you have been with the CFFC since the beginning. You have now successfully had multiple PPVs, numerous fighters make the jump to the UFC and have become one of the top organizations in the world of MMA. What changes have you seen since the beginning and in what areas do you feel the CFFC can improve if any?
Garcia: It’s great to see fighters further their career after CFFC. That’s exactly what we want. We have a pretty good model in building our fighters so when a champion gets the call for the UFC, we have another guy ready for that spot. There hasn’t been many changes since when we first started. The priority has always been the fans and the fighters. Give the fans a great show and a reason to come back while treating the fighters with the respect they deserve. We have treated fighters like family and that’s why you see so many fighters come back after they fight for another organization.
That is the word every fighter we have spoken to says “family” and that to us speaks very highly of the genuine care you have for these fighters. Now speaking of changes, Burt Watson now works for the promotion and one of our favorite people, Devon Mathiesen was just named GM! Talk to us about some of these changes and how the CFFC has gotten even better because of them?
Garcia: When I heard that Burt Watson was coming aboard, I was ecstatic. He’s a walking encyclopedia of MMA. Every time I speak to him, I learn something more. And I think the fighters appreciate him a lot too. They kind of freak out when they tell me, “Hey, Burt just caked me!” I can’t tell you how happy I am for Devon. We started together and to see her hard work payoff is really amazing. She is so dedicated to CFFC. She’ll do great and CFFC is in great hands.
That is awesome and we couldn’t agree more, Burt, Devon, Rob and yourself are some of the best people in the business and some of the most approachable. OK let’s get right to it, CFFC 61 is right around the corner, October 29 live at the Borgota in Atlantic City. You have put together one of the best cards and what people are calling in the history of the CFFC. Talk to us about how this card came together and how much stress is there on you to put forth cards like this?
Garcia: When we go to the Borgata, it’s always special. We wanted to have a few title fights and ended up with two. Everyone loves heavyweights so it’s great to feature Zu Anyanwu Vs Joe Pinto. And to have Jared Gordon back after he took one for team and fight up a weight class is something we wanted to do as well. From top to bottom, I think this a well balanced card with solid veterans from Hawaii to Florida. I’m really excited for this card.
We couldn’t agree more. Now we have to add in some BREAKING NEWS that Jared Gordon has suffered an injury and is now being replaced by Shane Burgos and will fight for the interim title. Looking at this card it is stacked from top to bottom. Let’s start right with the moneymaker, the heavyweight title is on the line as the champ Zu Anyanwu takes on undefeated Joe Pinto. This fight seem to spawn when Zu kind of set an open challenge out over Facebook. I want common is that and talk to us about this flight, what do you see when you see it on paper?
Garcia: This fight kind of took a life of its own on social media. Joe wanted this fight bad and asked me about a few months ago. He must see something in Zu’s game that he can capitalize on. Joe trains with Chris Birchler and Pilinio Cruz, but Zu beat them. So I think he’s going to have a plan. He’s hungry too which you really can’t put a value on that. On the other hand, Zu is a monster and should be in the UFC. He has power to end the fight in an instant and also is very capable on the ground. I think Joe has gotten under his skin a little bit and has given him some motivation.
I think you put it perfectly and they are both under each other’s skin, the social media hype has been fantastic! Looking a little deeper the card your comb in event is my sleeper for fight of the night as you have sort of a journeyman in Adam Ward taking on Featherweight Champ Jared Gordon. Just bought this fight and is it a bit odd giving a guy who isn’t in the promotion a title fight for his first bout?
Garcia: This isn’t the only time we have done this. Adam is coming off an impressive win in June and trains with a great team in Gilbert Grappling in Chicago. People aren’t lining up to fight Jared Gordon. Look at his last two fights. He knocks out a great veteran like Anthony Morrison and then submits Dawond Pickney up at lightweight. So, we had to go out of the area to find a guy and Adam stepped up.
Now we were informed earlier this week that Jared suffered an injury in camp and has been pulled from the card. Now the Shane BBurgos (7-0) vs Toby Misech (9-5) for the interim FW belt. Talk to us about how hard it is as a matchmaker to replace a fight last-minute like this?
Garcia: The last two weeks before the event is probably the most stressful time for me. Two weeks is pretty hard to find replacements and you really feel bad if you can’t find a guy a replacement who’s been training for the last couple of months or so. I cringe every time I see my phone ring at this time if it’s a manager or a trainer. It’s never good news. It’s either a fighter is hurt or there’s going to be a weight issue. This card has gone through several changes but as a matchmaker you expect that. When you do a card and match 13 fights, you expect a fight or two to drop off. We were very fortunate with this one. Shane Burgos is the number one contender for the title and his team wanted one more fight before fighting for the title. When Jared pulled out our first inclination was to get Ward a fighter for the belt. When that didn’t work out, we told Burgos and Toby Misech that their fight was now for the title. They both were pretty excited. Shane is undefeated and one of the hottest prospects in the sport. Toby is a veteran who’s fought nothing but tough guys. I’m really excited for this fight.
So now with this being a title fight, the participants haven’t changed but the stakes have. What do you see in this fight?
Garcia: Shane is an absolute killer. No one, and I mean no one, will fight this guy. He’s one of the hardest fighters to get fights for. If he wins this fight, it’s hard for the UFC to deny him. But I have heard great things about Toby and he’s a veteran. He has experience on Shane and that could be the difference in the fight.
The other fight which will be an absolute war is DJ Jackson Vs Bassil Hafez. Both are undefeated and both want this test. DJ is a high level wrestler and jiu jitsu competitor. Bassil can either KO or submit you so this is a very intriguing fight. The winner of this puts himself in prime position for a title fight. This will be the fight of the night.
Nice, that fight is def on our radar too! So where does the CFFC go after 61 and are there any plans on doing some shows along the east coast…. maybe a little more south so us DC people don’t have to drive so far HAHA?
Garcia: After CFFC 61 we’re going back to the Borgata on Friday, November 11 for an all amateur event. Then we’re going back to Philly on December 3rd, for a pro-AMMY card. As far as locations, stay tuned!
See that’s just another reason how you are the best promotion, not only do you have huge pro cards but you also cater to the AMMY ranks which is amazing! And don’t play with my emotions here hah,a I need some CFFC down here. That drive from VA Beach is rough. What do you look for in fighters when you and the rest of the administration are looking for new talent?
Garcia: There’s a lot to look for in a fighter. Obviously on the regional level we like to have a guy that has a following and brings a nice crowd with him. We also like to see guys who are at the top of their game and maybe a few fights away from the UFC. We like to see exciting fighters that go for the finish as well.
OK, we know your time is valuable so we will leave it with this final question. For people who might not know about the CFFC how would you describe it from your point of you and why should people be keeping an eye on the fighters there?
Garcia: When you come to CFFC, it’s an event. You will have a great time whether you’re a casual fan or a die hard MMA fan. When you come to CFFC, you can also see the next UFC star. On November 12 you will see two former CFFC champions, Lyman Good and Katlyn Chookagian fight in UFC’s inaugural New York event. People say, “Hey, I seen Paul Felder fight in CFFC!”. Be that guy and come out on October 29!
We couldn’t agree more, I have had more fun at the numerous CFFC event than I have had at most UFC and Bellator events, it’s a crazy atmosphere with a great set of fights each time. From the action in the cage to the passion in the crowd is it 2nd to none! Well we wish you the best with CFFC 61 and the future. Thanks again!