Justin Lawrence, Promoter, Xtreme Fighting Championship:
- I have worn many hats in my 20 years of employment
ranging from casual positions in my early years in
my parents businesses such as tenpin bowling centers,
drive-in movie theatres and convenience stores. Having
grown up in a bowling alley I gained employment in
a managerial capacity at the age of 18 when I left
school. Shortly thereafter I joined the Queensland
Police service and remained in it for 6 years. My
true passion of sport led me to managing Police Youth
Clubs prior to leaving the service in 1995 to manage
a Gymnasium. Having been a fan of pro wrestling as
a child, I was exposed to the early Japanese MMA scene
in the late 80's, the concept simply blew me away.
I was hooked and started to source tapes from around
the world to watch the sport, to this day I get most
of the events from Brazil, Japan and America. I met
Chris Haseman in 1995 as he trained at the gym where
I worked, and I soon became more and more involved
with the sport, as Chris was planning on running his
Rings Australia shows. My sheer passion of MMA led
me to dig deeper and deeper into the sport.
assisting Chris my next port of call was helping Chris
DeWeaver establish Pancrase Australia, a project that
I have very fond memories of indeed. To this day I
have a very good relationship with Chris who now is
my MC (ring announcer) for XFC. Many of the fighters
that made debut in Pancrase are a part of the XFC
roster including our middleweight champion Tony Bonello
who now boasts 3 world titles and Luke Pezzutti who
is the current Welterweight XFC champion and world
Pancration champion, along with many other ex Pancrase
Pancrase I promoted smaller events, more so, I acted
as an agent for other promoters such as Jim Cass.
I simply sold the concept of MMA to the promoters
of other ring sports and we had many matches headline
Muay-Thai and kick boxing events. Through my knowledge
of the sport and contacts I also began to manage fighters,
this saw me introduce many fighters to other organizations
in Australia such as Spartan. Where I had the likes
of Nathan STAHR, Neil SWAILES, Matt TE PAA and Richard
BUHRMANN (to name a few) compete.
was in late 2002 that I received an e-mail from a
gentleman who introduced himself as Joe Sita. I soon
learned that Joe was the son of longtime boxing promoter
Cos Sita who had promoted the likes of Lester Ellis
and Jeff Fenech. Joe having grown up in the ring so
to speak, had a great passion for pugilism and after
witnessing a UFC event on TV he, just like me, some
16 years earlier was blown away! Through Joe's drive
and marketing savvy we formed Xtreme Productions and
the XFC. In all honesty if Joe did not approach me
I probably would have been plodding along with what
I had been previously doing.
first show was May 4 of 2003, and we then promoted
further shows in August and November of that year.
The shows have been getting bigger and better and
the talent we are showcasing is growing with us too.
I like to see those around me grow and be successful
too. For my mind it is very saddening to see fighters
get in the ring and fight with their last breath without
any financial reward and minimal gratitude, whilst
promoters reap the reward and cry poor. I can sleep
well at night knowing that I have done all I can for
the athletes that are a part of the XFC and that I
am doing my utmost to ensure their maximum growth
is reached. I am continually striving to bring better
talent to the XFC and to gain opportunities for our
fighters abroad. Such endeavors recently saw Daniel
Lima represent the XFC in the Philippines.
is Xtreme Fighting Championship Australia's premier
martial arts event?
are so many reasons, the talent first and foremost.
We undeniably have the finest fighters in Australia
on our events from the 60kg Daniel Lima who boasts
many championships in Brazil, America and Australia
to Tony "Gun" Bonello, a 3 time world champion.
Our Light heavyweight champion Sam Nest is undefeated
internationally and I am matching him against the
super tough Forrest Griffin from the US on March 19.
Also we have some very promising rising talent such
as Jason "Wildchild" Wild who is only 17
and Brandon Bell who has a perfect 12-0 record all
by brutal KO. Brandon will face former number 5 in
the world and Pro Boxer (under Jeff Fenech) Ian Schaaffa
for our lightweight title on January 31. We also have
had the likes of World champions such as Ian Jacobs,
Nathan Corbett and Pat Cash ringside at our events
and Joe Bugner too. One of the highlights of XFC 1
was when Aussie Joe got in the ring and spoke comically
about how "crazy" the sport was and offered
his services to fight out MC Chris Deweaver.
production is cutting edge and market leading, we
could get away with a smoke machine and a strobe like
many others do but we want to entertain the fans with
a fantastic show. Also the XFC is a level playing
field and the only MMA promotion in Australia that
is not promoted by a trainer that fields their own
students to fight on the show. In the XFC the fighter
has total peace of mind that everyone has a fair shot.
Also the mechanics of the show, our rules are internationally
approved and sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic
commission. I really pay great attention to the propriety
of the sport and that translates into a market leading
product. We have formed an excellent relationship
with the ANBF through President, Brad Vovalle, who
attends all our shows and loves the sport.
the package that we offer we are really a total entertainment
spectacular and not just a fight night. I can assure
everyone that we will only grow and grow too. Every
show we become stronger, XFC4 shall see XFC v King
of the Cage, our sister company in the US. That show
is really going to turn the sport upside down!
does it take to success in the martial arts world?
to ask a martial artist that one, I do not come from
a traditional martial Arts background.
you are referring to martial Arts, I have never done
anything apart from dabble in various arts. Had I
been exposed to the concept of MMA as a child I would
have spent the time to do so. Perhaps my children
may choose to do that?
do many in traditional sports and sports media just
not "get it"?
if you are referring to the media giving us (MMA)
a bad rap, that is largely due to the way the sport
was initially promoted in the early 90's and glorified
as being a "no rules, anything goes" affair.
Naturally this made for huge buy rates with every
male between the age of 18 to 90 wanting to watch
it, but it (the success) was short lived. Such could
not be further from the truth. Today the sport is
globally accepted with many Olympic medalists participating.
The medical procedures and safety conditions imposed
by the Nevada State Athletic Commission are second
to none, which is why we have used them.
traditional martial artists may also have a reluctance
to accept MMA events as it is a true rounded form
of combat, that as the name entails encompasses all
of the Martial Arts. The days of a 1 dimensioned fighter
having success in the sport are gone, fighters now
must know the whole game. A traditional martial artist
that teaches a single facetted art which may concentrate
on kicking or punching only really has to from a business
perspective alone steer well clear of supporting MMA.
have been some of the ups and downs in your career?
mainly positives, seeing people that started MMA here
go onto reach their goals, whether that be fighting
overseas or just getting in the ring. I am very proud
to be able to run as many events as we do and to have
a truly world class product. I have had the likes
of the superstars mentioned above on my shows and
also when you have a guy like Chris Haseman who has
had 60 plus fights around the world state "that
is the best show I have ever been to" with reference
to XFC3, you know you are doing well. The negatives,
I am really upset by people in the sport who are purely
self motivated whether that be promoters who have
no motivation except for the growth of their own bankroll
or ego at the expense of everyone around them or trainers
that ill advise students in order to do the same.
It speaks volumes of my passion for the sport as I
take such offence to those who abuse the sport for
their own personal gratification at the expense of
have been your main supporters?
have a great level of support from my family and friends
who have been instrumental in seeing XFC develop.
Also I am very lucky to have the support of the upper
echelon of fighters in Australia which has allowed
the XFC to produce such a market leading product.
I have a close working relationship with many organizations
around the world including King of the Cage in the
US and Pancrase in Japan. I also interact extensively
with John Donehue who promotes great events in Melbourne.
I actually sent 2 XFC fighters to fight on his debut
show and more will follow soon. I really want to see
the sport and fighters grow here and it's good that
John is now promoting in Melbourne.
personal favourite match?
are so many, I love the sport at such a level that
it is rare that I don't enjoy a match. One match I
was very proud of making was Liam Resnekov v Steve
Gillinder as both are very good friends of mine that
I have seen grow to become unbelievable fighters.
XFC 4 also Kyle Noke who has only trained for little
over a year face Noriyuki Hayakawa a superstar and
3 time champion of Japan. Although Kyle lost he really
fought well and will be a force globally in a very
Wild's debut on XFC really tugged at my heart as he
fought my very close friend Adrian Pang, the bout
was a rematch from an earlier amateur bout on Spartan.
The bout was electric and I have no shame in saying
that tears rolled down my face as the emotion overcame
me when Jason won. Since I signed Jason to fight with
us I have became very close to him and like all my
athletes I am striving to assist him in any way possible.
For a kid who had never earned a dollar fighting he
is now a key player in the XFC and will be a headliner
against international fighters effective March 19.
Keep an eye on this fighter as he is the future of
makes a great sports promoter?
really think that with any business or pursuit in
life you have to have drive and passion. One of my
very close friends Peter Nicholas of Naturopathica,
who produce dietary fatblaster and are our major sponsor
told me that the XFC would be a great success as the
drive and love that I had for the sport was unequalled.
When one of the wealthiest men in Australia and entrepreneur
of the year tell you those things you tend to feel
you are on the right track. I think though one has
to also understand the market and cater to the market
as opposed to their own specific needs which can happen
when you are a fan of the product.
are the main dangers of the martial arts business?
MMA is just like any other business you have to be
on your toes and strive to increase business every
day and to make the product grow. As per previous
our medical and safety procedures are second to none,
it concerns me that other organizations do not enforce
such strict conditions. I would hate to see a broad
backlash to an injury that occurred on a poorly governed
event effect us.
the sport still underground?
and no. It's all relative to the term underground.
We are not really promoting in car lots so to speak
but until we get TV exposure I believe it could still
be considered underground.
is your sport so political?
am unsure I really don't have a political agenda per
say. As per previous we have an open door policy and
do not have vested interested in one particular team,
so to speak.
been your experience dealing with Ticketek or Ticketmaster7?
this stage we have not approached them simply as I
am so busy running the show, thankfully we have had
great success through our own sales. I would like
to take the time to talk to anyone who can help us
reach a larger audience.
has the Internet helped you?
we have a fantastic webpage www.xfc.com.au
it rates up there with any of the other MMA pages
in the world. The guys at insane technologies have
done a great job!
media attention have you received both here in Australia
in international press, particularly in Japan. Lots
of internet coverage and newspaper stuff locally.
We also feature strongly in fight related magazines
globally. I have done a few radio interviews in various
parts of the world and other internet based audio
are the details of your next few shows?
31 - XFC presents Xtreme Fight Club. The fight club
event will act as a feeder show to the XFC allowing
me to have new fighters make debut and let me see
if they have what it takes to compete on the bigger
XFC shows at Southport RSL. Don't get me wrong we
still have capacity for 1000 people and the fights
will be awesome. I will always put strong main events
and upper card action on these events. The first main
event of Bell v Schaffa is a title bout that could
headline any event in Australia. We shall run 4 of
these events per year, 2 in Brisbane and 2 in Toowoomba,
where I have fantastic support of Peter Davis and
Wayne Williams who have many fighters training under
other difference with us is that all fights are done
under contract and when I make a commitment to a fighter
it is made with a pen and signed. Fighters who do
achieve in the Fight club events will be seen on the
19 is XFC v KOTC at the RSL. This will be the pinnacle
of Australian MMA to date. WE have the likes of Sam
Nest, Tony Bonello, Jason Wild & Danny Higgins
who is the bodyguard of Steve "The Crocodile
Hunter" Irwin all fighting international superstars.
Also we will see favourites such as Adrian Pang, Kyle
Noke and Adam Kayoom appearing.
is so much more that I could say regarding this event
but an indication as to the strength of the event
would be that I am in negotiations with Daniel Lima
to defend his XFC title against Jamie Ballard. The
strength of this card would possibly see that fight
as a curtain raiser, due to the upper echelon talent
coming from overseas.
should speak more after the January 31 event as I
have a few things that will be released at that event
regarding the March 19 event.
note: As they say, this is the Real Deal. Extreme
fighting in Australia will never be the same again.
It's the best of international and local talent. A
promoter who cares about his talent, and puts on a
great show - now, there's a novel idea!
Arts Resource (Greg Tingle's)
Release: Become An Official XFC Agent
The Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle
The Great Yankee Promoters, by Greg Tingle
Man Australia: Sports News