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RIZIN’s survival depends on crowdfunding — would you crowdfund your favorite fight promotion?

By Zach Arnold | September 8, 2020

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Tacky or creative? Innovative or low-rent?

What to make of RIZIN crowdfunding financing for MMA events from fans during the Coronavirus era?

RIZIN 24 is scheduled to take place on September 27th at Saitama Super Arena. According to RIZIN, the arena will be configured to seat 5,000 fans.

In the promotion’s latest crowdfunding effort, the target was 50 million Yen. They’ve raised 70 million Yen with over 8,000 contributors.

Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the King of PRIDE, runs RIZIN. He considers him the top Japanese MMA promoter left standing. Given that it is Mr. Sakakibara and his track record of big events with PRIDE has created an image of big things, does crowdfunding diminish his stature? Does it make him look terrible? Or is he being an honest broker in an industry full of failure?

Is it the future of fight sports?

There is so much risk involved in promoting a fight event during a good economy, imagine how terrible the odds are during a pandemic.

The idea of crowdfunding fights? I actually spent a significant amount of time last year offline war-gaming out a model, a concept if you will, of how to create a platform for fans to generate their own purse bids to book fights.

In the end, the legalities of contract, administrative, and tort law in the United States made the concept unworkable.

The concept would have revolved around two fighters agreeing to a purse bid with a minimum downside and if there was enough crowdfunding support to match the purse bid, then a contract would be negotiated with television networks and sponsors. Sounds easy but it ain’t so simple in execution.

Do I think a variation of this idea will happen sooner rather than later? Yes, but I’m not sure that it will happen in the United States. It will have to happen in a country with a large fight population but not a complicated set of regulatory bodies.

Where does this put RIZIN? They are proclaiming to be in survival mode — and that’s an entirely realistic story. Will surviving by crowdfunding be an “image down” scenario in terms of losing face? Nobody knows.

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