Matthew Dodge is the founder of Dodge Sports Management which is a full-service mixed martial arts athlete management and marketing agency. Dodge represents many international martial artists from organizations all across the globe including the UFC, LFA and more.
Matthew Dodge: Alright man so uh, so how have you been throughout the quarantine? I mean strange strange times, for I think everyone in both mixed martial arts, world and sports in general. But how have you been? How are you in Howard, family, strange times, is right, yeah we’re good we’re thriving we’re making the most out of it. You know you could go one and you could do one of two things right go one one way or the other. You can use this to relax and and get a little lazy and put on some pounds or you could use it as an opportunity to to get better become more productive. So that’s what we’re doing you know we’re working, really hard we’re trying to be creative with sponsorship marketing. You know some some regional MMA start and open up now and we’re excited about some fights that are going on we’re working on the you know the mental health and the physical health of ourselves and our fighters too. So we’re we’re using this in the most productive best way possible. I mean I kind of did a little bit, both I put on pounds and I ended up starting something that I I really enjoy. So I mean, like you said. I mean it’s good that you used it as a positive and, and I think a lot of people are spending it to reconnect with their families and whatnot, especially fighters who are who are traveling abroad or training non-stop. I’D like to start a little bit, but talking about you as well as dodge sports as a whole and then obviously get into to some of the fighters, so I mean I think, you’re living the dream of everyone. I mean I, you know as a kid growing up, I was like man. I’D do anything to either be an athlete or train with an athlete or coach or become an agent. So what got you into it? Well, tell you what that’s the right mentality? That’S the mentality that got me into it when I was a kid, this is an industry. This is a field that just came to me truthfully as a kid. I always had a knack for for sports, but sports in a different way. I grew up playing those GM games instead of actually playing the Madden’s at the FIFA. You know the two K’s I cared more about putting the pieces together behind the scenes and and getting wins and getting w’s. So you know that’s ingrained in me. I have a massive passion, just like you do, for the for the sport of mixed martial arts, but my journey started as I was an NFL agent at 18. You know I got into that game early as soon as I could. I got into the game, represented a couple guys in the NFL’s face, take about doing that had some fun doing that, but at that time there was an opportunity that was when the UFC signed the Fox deal and UFC was becoming a little bit more mainstream. There was a little bit more opportunity there and a couple of the guys that I’d worked with on the NFL side of things did a little rolling, did a little jiu-jitsu and got me into MMA and from their transition from the NFL game into MMA work with A ton of really really high-level sports agencies in mixed martial arts even work with you know, Johny Hendricks back when he was fighting GSP and working some of the original sponsorship deals and just a couple years back started dodge sports figured it was time yeah. I love that I was watching. I was watching one of your interviews and I was listening to one of your podcasts and one of the things he said is there was a little lie in there to get your foot in the door. Do you want to touch on that yeah? I think you know fabrication of the truth. Slightly tell you what, in in the industry like this, if anyone is trying to get into you know mixed martial arts management or really sports management in general, it’s probably one of the most cutthroat markets and industries. There is period there really aren’t a lot of industries or excuse me a lot of companies that make a whole lot of money, and it’s really really just tough to get into because everyone wants to get into it. Like you said so, I had an 18. I never have much to offer aside from my passion and my effort, so I had to get creative. I was getting you know. Doors slammed in my face, not not answering calls. No one was getting in touch with me really. I was reaching out to everybody and I figured you know what the only way I’m gon na get on the line with somebody is. If I fit a little bit – and I said that I was the University of Connecticut quarterbacks and I was looking for a representation and a small agency in New York City took the call right when he got on with me. I explained the truth. He appreciated the creativity that it took and the next day I was on a train to the city and got my first internship year later saw my first NFL guy and the rest is history yeah. I love that. I mean you hear so many stories of people doing whatever it takes to get their foot in the door, like even Joe Silva, just sent an email look at where it got him, and I think a lot of people tend to shy away from really shooting their Shot, I did it for years I mean I’ve been a fan of MMA and I was like there’s no way I’d ever get involved in it. I’M an accountant, can’t say I’m passionate about accounting but well. You know, I think, a lot of people just lack the ability to just shoot their shot, and you know that’s a great example of it. Speaking of NFL, what was what was the main reason behind the switch to MMA, and I mean a lot of people like I’m thinking about it. I’M like man, there’s so much money in the NFL, but I get then again. You’Re just a small fish in a big pond was that one of the reasons why you transitioned a little bit – I think more. So it’s just passion like I have. I had so much passion for MMA as a sport compared to the NFL. It was night and day. I also looked. The NFL is an incredibly like sophisticated and steady and just locked in sport. For many many years I mean it’s, the staple in American culture, UFC and MMA was kind of the pretty kid or, like the you, know, the pretty girl on the Block in a sense, and there was a lot of interest in being a part of the growth And being a kind of a first mover in a sense to that, whereas I didn’t have that luxury with the NFL and I saw the opportunity, I really wanted to be a part of it and love. The sport saw great people working in it saw you know a way that I could be more impactful in the game than it could at the NFL at that at that age. What’S it like working with these high level fighters, I mean a lot of people. Look at fight there’s as animals. There are these, these crazy individuals, and you know the more I get to speak with them. The more I realize they’re they’re, normal they’re. You know they’re more down to earth than most athletes, but what’s it like working with these guys day in and day ho, I think they’re the most committed athletes in any sport. I mean I’ve worked with athletes in a lot of different sports NFL. Obviously, in NFL you can get away with just natural ability in a lot of ways right. You don’t necessarily have to be super super hard-working if you were gifted with you, know, strength and speed and those types of things, and it could get you really really far and you I’m a game, it can’t it’s. You know you have to be competent in all areas, but you also have to have the mental game on point. You know you could you could show up to a football game and not really be there mentally and just get away with it? No one will know the difference. You show up to a fight not being mentally prepared. You get knocked out or choked out, you know. So. Just dealing with this level of athlete is really refreshing. I mean they’re, they dedicate their entire lives day in and day out. Multiple times a day to a sport that really isn’t super financially rewarding at first you know, and even even when you get into the UFC, you know unless you’re winning and winning often fighting off. Then it’s really not incredibly lucrative early on right, like in the NFL. I mean you make most of your money on the second and third contracts. It’S the same type of thing with with the UFC and MMA. I just think it takes a whole lot more to get there, and these people know that these athletes know that and they’re still doing it shows a lot about their character. And fortunately, you know here at dodge sports we’ve had the ability to and and the luxury of dealing, which is amazing human beings. I think that goes into our evaluation process to begin with, but we’ve just had just amazing human beings working with us, and I want to give them every opportunity to succeed. So it’s been great dealing with the the level of professionalism that you know a lot of mixed martial artists have just just in the nature of the game. That is one of the things I noticed about about your athletes. I’Ve spoken to three of them so far, and the one thing that’s consistent about all three is their professionalism, how nice they are and how accessible they are. Usually you go through three or four different people and Andre you’ll a great example. He was the fourth person. I ever had on. I was essentially a nobody. I had one subscriber on my youtube channel. I sent him a message and within five minutes, he’s like yeah, absolutely I’d, love to jasmine another great example and Anthony Romero. So I’d like to talk about about the three of them in particular: what’s it like working with Andre, obviously high level athlete in the UFC great guy stud yeah Andre is such a blessing to the agency. Andre fits the position at the agency of really being a role model that a lot of the men in the women or coming up can aspire to be like not only is Andre a badass fighter, and you know, has you know, potential championship pedigree behind him and Is gon na make a lot of moves and have a lot of success in the UFC moving forward? Now that he’s healthy he’s just also a great human being and a great role model for these guys, it is the right thing. You know he’s uh he’s professional. He has a positive outlook on everything that he does. He says yes more than he says no right. He trusts the process, which is great, you know and he’s always accessible. You know, just like he’s accessible to you is accessible to. You know the men and women who were to know or three-and-oh on the dog sports roster, who you know, aspire to be like and Andre you’ll. So he’s you know he and I have a special relationship. It was one of my first real clients when I started dog sports, obviously having tremendous amount of success and it’s a bright future ahead, Fran. What is next for him. Obviously, he’s got that I’m injury and I know he’s talking about a turnaround he wants to fight sooner rather than later. Is there anything in the works? Obviously, I’m sure there’s a lot of things you can’t you can’t disclose yet if there was any way but well, but what’s the timeline for his return yeah, I had a conversation with the UFC brass earlier this morning about him he’s just getting his clearance now for Ufc 247, where he he shattered his forearm in the first about 20-30 seconds of the fight but still went on to win. He also had a bucket tear in his knee, so we got him surgically repaired. He is as good as he’s ever been. What’S crazy? Is anyone who’s seen Andre? You will now has really just seen an injured Andre. You will always fighting he’s kind of always had knacking injuries and now he’s fully healthy. So what’s next for him is he’s gon na. Have I mean we’re setting him up for September? It you know ideally we’d love to get him out in fight island. If they continue it, you know the kovat and the pandemic is obviously gon na dictate if they continue doing some fights out there and fight Island. But Andrew wants to be worldwide so fight islands. A perfect place for him if they do decide to pull back from fight island in September, because that’s when we’re gon na get him in then we’ll have them fight in the UFC at at UFC apex and in Vegas. But you know, hopefully he can get a fight, not a tune-up fight, but a good fight to just you know, get back in there and shake off some some of the ring rust per se or cage rust per se, get him in there and hopefully fight him. Two more times before the end of the year and maybe get a number next to his name after that yeah it’s a great news. I mean I’ve been a fan of Andre for a long time. His last fight, I mean it, really showed how tough he was. You know going through a lot of adversity with the injury early on and still got the W close fight, but but he got it done. Another fight just announced yesterday. Jasmine’S got a fight, really really excited for that. I spoke to her last week and she’s ready to go yeah. So so, what’s up what’s next for her and what’s the timeline, I guess that we can see her. Obviously, I’m sure there’s a lot of things you can’t announce yet, but but I’m sure, she’s excited it’s been a busy day. I actually just talked to the brass they’re at that organization. They’Re gon na be announcing it this week hear that what we do is we always respect the process right and a lot of the organizations there’s benefit in them announcing these types of things first, so we always respect that I’ll. Tell you what she’s got a huge fight, we probably the biggest fight of her career, coming up against the very formidable opponent and it’s gon na be in August, so it’s gon na be soon. You guys will be able to see it on a pretty major. Probably a pretty major Network and just watch watch for social media in the next couple of days. It’Ll be announced soon, but she’s uh she’s excited what’s really nice about Jasmine. I think you talked about it on her on the last podcast. You did with her his Jasmine has the ability to fight it to weight classes and be successful, so this next fight is actually going to be a 115 dropping down from 125, which just lends itself really really well to the next level right into the UFC. Because if you have the ability to fight both of those, you can take short notice opportunities at 112, 125 or or full camps at 115 and feel confident in your ability and both of those. Not many people or women have the ability to do that and she does so we’re excited about that and she’s uh. You know a lot of people don’t know this, but I mean she’s undefeated for now within eight months, like it’s crazy. To think that you know, someone’s got four no on the doorstep of potentially a big organization and she’s really only fought as a pro for such a short period of time. I can’t say we’re surprised because we’re not and then we’ve got a big. I actually started representing jasmine as an amateur which is very rare in this game, because, usually you know when you want to bring on management, it’s usually a few fights and as a professional but Jasmine just says that she has that it factor. You know, and it’s not a surprise, that we got her all ready to for an O and she’s. You know knocking on the doorstep of the next level, another big another big name, another Canadian, I’m Canadian, so obviously always rooting for Canadian fighters. Anthea Marinaro on the contender series: what can we expect from him? Well, first of all, I’m glad that we can get Canada back on the MMA map, because I think that it’s been underrepresented from way too long and there are far too many quality fighters in Canada. So Anthony it’s hopefully gon na bring that Canadian flag into the contender series and really make a huge mark at the next level. His fight is it’s August 25th. It’S gon na be at Apex. He’S worked his entire life for this type of opportunity. I think he’s primed ready and he does things the right way, just like Andre Yule does great representation of our brand of dodge sports and a great representation. In my opinion of Canadian mixed martial arts at the next level, do things right, stay positive? You know work really really hard. We had the pleasure of having him down in Miami and the guys work ethic is unmatched in the game. So look for eight. No, hopefully we can get a nice finish and get that contract. So I’d like to talk a little bit about about the thing I mean. Obviously, you see a lot of professionalism from the three people that we just spoke on. Those are the three people I’ve interviewed so I mean there’s a variety of others as well. Sam Guardiola is also there as well, but there’s several other fighters ensign, but those are the three that that I really know, but one of the things I noticed especially in MMA is negative. Attention is almost good attention. You see it from guys, like Koli covington, Conor McGregor, most recently Mike Perry with what he did. How do you keep your fighters in line and just saying you know what do it the right way because being negative almost gets you the attention from from these organizations. So why not just do that? To be honest, it’s, like you, don’t invite the rotten apples into your. You know your crop right in a sense. So what for us it comes down to our evaluation process when we bring on fighters we’re super strict, and when I say we, I’ve got a great team here at dodge sports you know, Joey Torres is has been killing. It he’s signed a couple guys under the roster already and a lot of sponsorships, there’s a lot of great things for us. So we we evaluate talent and to be honest with you, if somebody sticks out like that and has that type of mentality, and it is negative and in that sense we just don’t even entertainment or not the conversation, you know so we bring in a quality human Being and a quality individual to avoid those types of things you know look, there are many ways to get from point A to point B right. We just choose to go a different route. We choose to go our way right and I don’t think that there is one perfect way to do things, but we prefer ours and we’ve got a track record of success and we’re gon na stick to it. So to answer your question: it’s I think it just starts early on. We just don’t even we don’t invite that that type of energy or that type of mentality into into what we’re putting out there. And you know you see what you say so you said you like to get it early on. Is that one of the reasons why a lot of the people on your roster are prospects or up and comers? You know you look at guys like John Jones who, right now, if, if you were to try to manage him, it’s almost like he’s almost too far gone, you know, he’s he’s got so much success at such a young age. Do you think it’s better to you know to speak to these people at a young age and try to manage them and grow together rather than trying to attack them and become their managers later on in their careers yeah? Look we weren’t we’re not in this game! For from from for money, I mean I say this all the time, I would do this for free a hundred times out of a hundred times. You know we want to make an impact in men and women’s lives. We want to give people the opportunity to be successful and we want to grow this brand to be much more than just a mixed, martial arts and UFC. You know agency, we’ve got aspirations to do a lot of different things, and you know, I think, what’s important is the relationships and if you can build those relationships with business and personal and you know, grow those types of things and you’ve got a wonderful brand. So for us, the reason you see a lot of like blue-chip prospects people who are outside of major organizations for now. It is simply because we’re trying to make an impact and we see the potential a whole lot sooner than a lot of other people see the potential. You know we watch a ton of film, I can watch you know a few minutes of tape and tell you if someone has that that that factor or if someone shows something that we really can’t fix and we’ll avoid you know so. Yeah we’re in this game. For the different reasons, and then what a lot of the other agencies are in it for – and I think it shows so alright man. Thank you very much for taking the time I mean I’ve been a fan of a lot of your fighters. I’Ve spoken to before, and I wanted to speak to the guy that that’s really helped them along their way. I think it’s, I think it’s nice and it’s definitely I’ve never spoken to an agent before on this on this podcast. So it was it’s nice to see it things from a different perspective as well. So I really appreciate you taking the time you’ve got it appreciate it searching thanks again and all of us