For most of the past 20 years, Rich Chow has been one of the top players in all types of martial arts.
Working with promotions such as Rumble on the Rock, Elite XC and Strikeforce has given him a unique qualification to become one of the main battle architects in Bellator MMA. In his role as vice president of talent affairs, Cho not only collected the fights fans wanted to see, but was also responsible for scouting and adding new fighters to the roster, as well as chasing famous free agents.
He also traveled regularly with the company, and also dealt with all sorts of problems with the fighters from the squad, including injuries, contract negotiations, and more.
But more recently, as his children reached the age when they began to participate in extracurricular activities at school, he began to realize that spending weeks after weeks away from home was not the best way he wanted to be a father.
“I wanted to slow down and change my lifestyle a bit,” Chow said of MMA Fighting. “I think road grinding and Bellator-level advertising play is pretty tough. Many days and nights away from family, just on the road, just exhausting work. I knew that in a couple of years I would probably have to leave.
“I want to spend time with my family, and my children are very young, they are entering the age when my son plays sports. They are really starting to grow, and I was not going to miss that. I’m not going to miss this. This is kind of what got me thinking recently. I want to be at home more. I want to be around more. I want to be more present and be with my family. “
Sure, recruiting the best fighters in the world sounds like a dream job for any MMA fan, but Cho knows that much more has been invested in his work than just matchmaking.
“I think a lot of fans forget about it. They just see the end result or want to see the fight, ”Zhou explained. “They just don’t understand how difficult it is to put it together, but I’ve always said that combining fights is the easy part, just creating a fight in the fighting room. You start a fight that makes sense on many levels. It makes sense in terms of rating, stylistically it makes sense, I always thought it was easy.
“It was easy to determine what a good fight would be, but the challenge is actually putting together a fight for all these different reasons, all the different things that might prevent you from signing this fight. There are so many steps and so many things that can go wrong. Injuries, contract disputes, whatever is so unexpected, and that’s what you have to deal with. This is work. “
According to Zhou, he began to formulate a game plan that would eventually take him away from his role as matchmaker in Bellator, but he did not set a difficult date for his departure.
Another challenge was finding a new career that kept him as enthusiastic as the work he had done in recent years in a ViacomCBS-owned promotion. He obviously wanted to keep practicing the martial arts whenever possible, which once again narrowed down potential landing spots for him.
“I felt it was time to mix things up,” Zhou said. “I felt like I needed a new challenge and I felt like I wanted to learn something new. I have these thoughts in my head. I was not actively looking for things. I just thought that when the time came, it would be time to leave.
“Out of nowhere in my life comes the Wimp-2-Warrior, Nick Langton and John Cavanaugh, all these guys appear and kind of speed up in my head at that time.”
Wimp-2-Warrior is a fitness program in which members spend 20 weeks working with the best coaches and training partners in some of the largest and best MMA gyms, learning everything from strength and conditioning to hitting techniques and ultimate fighting. purpose. amateur fight.
For Zhou, the program spoke to him on a deeper level because it truly takes us back to the roots of the martial arts and the passion the average person can find when discovering the sport.
“This is a company of martial artists created by martial artists,” Zhou said. “I think my passion for martial arts was the main one for me. The dedication of everyone in this company to martial arts and simply training people is infectious and inspiring. The company itself, the people and what they stand for are huge. The fact that the company is moving towards innovation and technology attracts me very much. It’s about when I said I wanted to take on new challenges, which ticks the box.
“Just a chance to learn new things. I have been in the combat business and promotion for almost 20 years. From simple to high-end, where is Bellator. I felt good with everything I achieved and Wimp-2-Warrior offered me an exciting challenge with a goal that was simply noble and inspiring. “
As the new vice president in the United States, Zhou will be driving a new initiative to develop partnerships with gyms across the country that goes beyond simply getting people to participate in the Wimp-2-Warrior program.
“Actually what we do at the end of the day is we help the gyms, these amazing training centers, we help them grow,” Zhou explained. “We support them. We’re not trying to take over the gym, change their personality, change their name, none of that. We are here to provide a great program that will really help introduce the common man to the martial arts.
“On top of that, this turning point will occur here in the near future, and it will truly build on this strong program. We’re going to add business solutions to help gyms perform better. I’m talking about business best practices that will help them become more resilient and better businesses. The bottom line is simply helping gyms make more money and be more successful. ”
For all the success of promotions and fighters in the sport of MMA, Zhou said many gyms have not been as resilient with the current business model, and he hopes to change that in his new role.
“I think what has happened overall is that we have seen the industry grow at an advertising level,” Zhou said. “With the UFC going public, Bellator backed by ViacomCBS, PFL is providing really solid funding, just like the ONE Championship, Combate is playing in it all, so we’ve seen promotions grow and really solidify. We have seen fighters following this trend. Fighters are now more visible. There is good reason to believe that they should be paid more, but nonetheless, fighters are being paid more than ever. I believe the industry is booming.
“However, there is one factor in this equation that is not taken into account, namely gyms and academies. These amazing learning centers are the heart and soul of it all. This is where it all starts. This is a relatively simple and underserved sector, and we are here to help with that. ”
When he transitions to his new role in Wimp-2-Warrior, Chow was forced to leave his old friends at Bellator MMA, which he admitted was a heartbreaking discussion.
While it hasn’t been easy, Zhou knows he will still be doing the sport, only in a different way, which he hopes will affect a whole new sector of people interested in mixed martial arts, as well as the gyms where they will be. … training.
“It really came as a surprise to many, many people,” Zhou said. “This conversation with Scott [Coker] was difficult, but Scott always supported me. He cares about me first and foremost and knew this was a great opportunity. In fact, Scott and I are still working together. I don’t go there every day, but I continue to consult Bellator and work with Scott. I love it.
“But for me this is a big step. I dumped a lot of people, but as far as I can see, I am still in the industry. I am still able to work with these great gyms and these fighters, and the goal is the same. The dream is still the same. I just have a different path now. After all, I still love martial arts. I still love the fighting business. Now I just support it differently. “