In March this year, UFC and Rizin Fight Federation veteran Damien Brown added promoter to his growing list of talents, launching Beatdown Promotions.
The MMA promotion is set to be North Brisbane’s premium MMA event, with their debut set for July 9, at the Eatons Hill Hotel.
Having spent the past two and a half years since the beginning of COVID training, coaching and commentating for Rizin FF, Brown felt now was the right time to give the people of North Brisbane their own promotion and the local talent the opportunity to fight in their backyard.
The idea for the promotion was born when Brown spoke with fellow fighters at his gym who were looking to compete or make the transition to MMA.
“There were a few guys who wanted to fight, and I thought about it for a few years and I just felt like there was a bit of a hole in the North Brisbane market,” Brown told The Inner Sanctum.
“My intention is not to compete domestically and run the biggest promotion in the country, my intention is to run a show in one area and stay there and give that geographical area a show and the fighters an opportunity to fight in North Brisbane.
“I feel like I have the opportunity to do it, the ability to do it and had a couple of guys that I could work with already, so it all just came together at the right time.”
Having made his professional MMA debut in 2010, the 37-year-old has seen it all, having fought locally in Australia and around the globe for various promotions. Knowing the difficulties Australian mixed martial artists face trying to get high profile fights or international fights in Australia, Brown has strived that his promotion will be different.
“I am a fighter, I want to see guys have the opportunities I did,” Brown explained.
“I feel like the hole in Australian MMA is the connection between you’re on that level of going overseas, but you’ve got to go overseas to get another level of opponent.
“I feel like it’s good if someone can build some guys up and bring an international athlete or even a Kiwi across the water and put on that next level fight in their backyard and give those guys the opportunity to feel that international competition without a 30-hour flight.”
While Brown has made it clear that he is not looking to step on anyone’s toes, he is using his extensive knowledge and experience to do things differently compared to Australia’s other domestic promotions.
Brown wants his promotion to focus on the fighters, giving young athletes the resources to teach and guide them in their journeys.
“We are just trying to provide a better opportunity. It sounds a bit cliché to say we are not in it for the business, we are in it for the fighters, but at the end of the day there are not many people who have fought that run promotions,” Brown said.
“It has to make sense, so obviously you have to make a profit for it to be a decent business model, but I feel like there is an opportunity to put more focus on the athletes.
“We have teamed up with the Fight Dietitian so that we can provide not necessarily specific plans but to provide nutrition advice and direction to young athletes to make sure they are not missing weight.
“I feel like using the network that we have, we can provide opportunities for athletes to make money, have access to a dietitian, we are working with a strength and conditioning coach to possibly get something going for the next event.”
Beatdown Promotions will feature a 165-pound weight class, helping to bridge the gap between fighters who cut large amounts of weight to make the 155-pound Lightweight division or lack the size to compete at the traditional 170-pound Welterweight limit. Beatdown Promotions will instead feature a 175-pound weight class which will serve as Welterweight.
Giving the fighters the opportunity to compete is Brown’s main goal, with him willing to do catch-weight fights if required, come fight week.
“Why are Lightweights who are 78kg amateurs fighting at 70kg? Why not fight at 74.8kg,” he said.
“The whole point of amateur fighting is to gain experience.
“A lot of guys are even worried about being undefeated as amateurs, who cares. To me it’s like if you are going to take wins and losses through your career you may as well do it as an amateur.
“I think there is that side of Beatdown Promotions where there is an understanding of what it’s like to be an athlete, what it’s like to cut weight and that I can provide that kind of side that most people can’t.”
While the focus is primarily on the fighters, Brown, a North Brisbane native, wants to give his people the opportunity to have an affordable night out while experiencing domestic MMA.
“There are a lot of people in North Brisbane that want to watch fight shows but don’t want to pay $200 for a taxi so they can have a night out,” Brown said.
“The venue that we are using also provides that exact thing, a night out, not a sporting event.
“Rather than going to a sports arena where you need to leave afterwards, most people can just venture upstairs and carry on with their night, so I think we have a nice little thing going there.”
With this being Brown’s first experience as a promoter, he has leaned on the knowledge and experience he gained throughout his career, along with the advice of others.
“I’ve been a fighter, I’ve been easy to deal with for the last 12 years and I like to think I have decent enough relationships,” he said.
“Anyone who has promoted or is currently promoting in the past has given me some piece of advice leading up to this and being a promoted it is as time consuming and stressful as all those people told me.
“When you throw some internationals in there it’s even worse because you’ve got to deal with the travel and the visas.
“There are a bunch of gyms that have jumped on board, we have guys from everywhere, Newcastle, Canberra, Adelaide, New Zealand, Japan, Brisbane, Townsville, it’s going to be a pretty exciting card.”
Brown put the fights together with the ideology that the fighters ‘have to have a path to victory,’ with all matchups expected to go either way. While putting the fights together was a fun experience for Brown, he did face some challenges trying to find athletes willing to fight certain opponents.
“Everyone has that UFC effect in their mind where it’s like ‘I need to be undefeated, I need to be the next best thing,” Brown said.
“That’s okay but you could have 10 undefeated athletes and only one is going to make the UFC, so better off focusing on the journey here and now than the end goal.
“It’s not about winning and losing as an amateur, it’s about learning who you are and what you’re capable of and fixing the holes before you go pro.
“It’s very difficult to match fights, if guys think someone is a tough fight for them, they just won’t take it.
“That’s probably been the hardest thing, is fighters wanting wins not wanting to challenge themselves, not all of them.”
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Preview of the card
The card will feature 14 fights, with seven professional and seven amateur contests. Beatdown Promotions debut card will be headlined with an international Main Event, featuring Australian Elliot Compton against Japan’s Takuya Oyama (11-6).
Compton, a decorated kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter will be making his MMA debut when he meets Oyama. Compton comes with a wealth of experience having fought in ONE Championship as well as being a four-time Caged Muay Thai World Champion.
Oyama has fought in MMA since 2013, having won 11 of his 17 pro fights, with six of his wins coming via submission. Oyama will enter the bout on a three-fight win streak.
While Brown knows Compton well with the two being fellow teammates, training together at Base Training Centre, he applauded Compton for stepping into the deep end to test his skills in his debut.
“I understand what it looks like, ‘he’s promoting his mate’, he could have fought anyone and he picked a guy with 14 pro boxing fights and 17 pro MMA fights on a win streak from Japan,” Brown said.
“He’s not the kind of guy that takes the easy road anywhere, he wants to challenge himself. He knows he has the skillset on the ground, he is a brown belt in Jujitsu, he’s trained MMA and doing his wrestling for the last couple of years during COVID.
“This is not a fight of two strikers or two grapplers, this is a fight of two guys that are well rounded, that can fight on the ground, on the feet, one can throw his hands, the other has a great kickboxing background.
“This is a legit international, evenly matched up fight and I am really excited about it because I’ve obviously watched him train, being part of his journey.”
The Co-Main Event will feature another of Australia’s top level kickboxers, when former Glory fighter, Junior Tafa makes his transition to MMA to face Japan’s Taisei Sekino (3-4).
Tafa was expected to make his MMA debut on the UFC’s Contender Series, however the opportunity did not eventuate, instead opting to debut on the regional scene here in Australia.
“Credit to him, he could have debuted in MMA on the Contender Series, knock someone clean out and be in the UFC at one and zero,” Brown said.
“He wants to stay active and he wants to stay busy, so basically I went and found a guy that has a 100 per cent knockout rate and said ‘do you want to fight him?’. And he was like ‘yeah, let’s do it’.
“Junior is an elite world-class striker fighting for Glory, he’s not a bum.
“Trying to get guys to fight those guys is almost impossible, you have to find a guy that is willing to take a risk to get a victory and that’s really rare in modern MMA.
“For me I get to sit back one day and go I promoted Elliot Compton, I promoted Junior Tafa, that’s something that’s pretty cool for me.”
Perhaps the most highly anticipated fight on the card will be the third to last fight, featuring Welterweights Matt Vaile (11-2) and Matthew Frincu (13-4). While both have been inactive since COVID, the two have achieved lots through their young careers.
Vaile hails from New Zealand and has fought on some of the biggest domestic shows in Australia, as well as headlining Pancrase in Japan. Frincu competed in one of the world’s biggest MMA promotions, World Series of Fighting, as well as LFA where he fought Curtis Millender and Maycon Mendonça who have both gone on to fight in the UFC.
“He’s [Frincu] headlined LFA, he’s fought on World Series of Fighting, he lived and trained in America for five years, he’s world class,” Brown said.
“Matt Vaile is the winningest champ that we have ever seen in this country. He’s 11 and two with eight Australian and New Zealand titles, there is no one else like him.
“His last loss came to Sato from Japan when he fought on Pancrase for the belt and Sato is in the UFC now.
“I personally think that any promotion in this country would have put that as their main event and I am fortunate to work with both of those guys to put together arguably the best Welterweight fight that this country has or will see.”
Brown’s goal with the promotion is to continue to put on exciting fights, wanting to give the North Brisbane market an unforgettable experience as well as educate fighters while giving them opportunities.
“We just want to put on fun fights, we want the fans to talk about their experience and we just want to make MMA what it should be,” he said.
“We want to provide a fighter’s point of view and understanding when it comes to nutrition, strength and conditioning and advice and giving them access to other things they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“We are just going to focus on one show at a time, make it super exciting, make sure we’ve booked our shows in advance so we’ve always got something to work on and we will just see how the next three or four years plays out.
“My plan is to run three to four shows a year, bring one or two internationals to Brisbane for each card.”
Compton vs Oyama headlines Beatdown Promotions’ inaugural event live at Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel. Tickets for the July 9 event can be purchased here.
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