From the outside looking in, it’s not hard to see which two fighters should fight each other. That’s the easy part. The hard part is in all the behind the scenes management.
In a recent interview with SquareMile.com, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby tells us about his job and what goes into being a matchmaker in the world’s largest MMA promotion.
“The job title is a bit of a misnomer,” Shelby admitted. “It sounds cool, but the matching up of two athletes and getting them to commit to a bout is the smallest aspect of the job. Managing 500+ contracts. It’s negotiating the contracts, signing and releasing the athletes. Scouting the new talent. It’s putting out fires and lots of problem solving. Plan ‘A’ went up in flames. Plan ‘B’ went over a cliff. I’m always on Plan ‘C’. In addition you have to be aware of as many things about the sport as possible. Be as worldly as possible, so to speak.”
And with almost a decade of experience working under the former Zuffa-owned WEC and UFC brands, Shelby has made a lot of fights happen. However, which one is he the most proud of?
It’s Ronda Rousey’s 2013 rematch with Miesha Tate:
“Rousey vs Tate, December 2013,” Shelby said when asked about the fight he was most proud of. “It wasn’t easy to put together and nobody had any idea of the power Ronda possessed at the time, on the canvas or off. The fight was crazy, and women’s MMA obviously existed before, but it’s really the fight that I believe began to change the total complexion of the sport. It’s where a true icon began to be realized and led to one of the wildest rides ever in the Octagon, with Ronda dominating a sport as she became the face of a movement.”
With Joe Silva recently retireed, Shelby has been promoted to head matchmaker. He’s joined by Mick Maynard, formerly the president of Legacy FC. Shelby is currently responsible for matching Men’s 135-170, along with Women’s strawweight and bantamweight. Maynard handles the bookings for Men’s flyweight and 185-265.