Ground N Pound Q & A WITH Tommy Rojas|
Interview By Arias
I had the chance to have a short phone interview with mixed martial arts manager Tommy Rojas just a few days after his fighter, Shonie Carter, came off a loss to Karo Parisyan at WEC 10. Here is what he had to say:
Arias: How many fighters do you currently manage?
Tommy: We have two, Richard Montoya and Shonie Carter. At one time we had a total of ten fighters.
Arias: Who were they and who was your favorite and why?
Tommy: My partner Alan Wiese and I have managed Quinton Jackson, Shonie Carter, Richard Montoya, Shannon Ritch, Zane Frazier, Kauai Kupihea, Jim Theobald, Bobby Southworth, Sam Sotello and Bobby Hoffman. For pure excitement I would have to go with Quinton Jackson because I went to Pride with him. Plus he never lost when we were together. I have to mention Shonie Carter as well because he is so skilled and unpredictable that he ALWAYS brings excitement and a winning record into the ring or cage. I also enjoyed working with Jim Theobald (who is retired now). Jim was very easy to manage, and a very conservative career man with a wife and a family. Our first fighter, Bobby Southworth also has a very special place in my mind because I was able to get him a fight into PRIDE against Vitor Belfort in the first fight I ever booked. Boy, was I a rookie!! Another exciting experience was working with Bobby Hoffman. I was able to get him back into the UFC (against Josh Barnett) after the UFC had previously released him. I have had a good relationship with UFC President Dana White and UFC VP Joe Silva from the beginning and that really helped. The first time I met Dana we had dinner and he introduced by phone to Paul Smith (IFC promoter), Yukino Kanda (Pride VP) and Terry Trebilcock (KOTC promoter). He asked them to take my phone call when I called them! That was huge. Another fun experience was when I got Shannon Ritch a K-1 fight with Frank Shamrock. We had a meeting with Yukino Kanda and several Pride executives before Shannon’s fight with Frank. They talked about the prospects of Shannon returning to Pride if he would have won the fight. Shannon had already fought Saku in Pride at this point in his career. We all know that Shannon did not beat Frank but two hours before the fight when we had this conversation, it had some excitement to it.
Arias: What's next for Shonie Carter?
Tommy: Shonie is an exciting fighter win or lose and I'm sure that the WEC would want him back in August for their show. Shonie is amazing, not to mention the marketing value he brings to any show.
Arias: If a fighter wants to seek management from you, what should they do?
Tommy: They can call me at 925-963-2971 or email me at email@example.com. A fighter always wants to be treated as a top priority and I have to make sure I can meet all of their expectations. But they have to understand that right now it's a promoter's market. Promoters control who gets the fight and how much they get paid.
Arias: What can you do for a fighter?
Tommy: (For an up and comer) I think I can improve their career if they follow my lead. For example, getting them the "right" fights in the right location and the right time. For a veteran fighter it’s a little different: If a fighter has been booking their own fights they may be taking the wrong fights for the wrong reasons and should they accumulate a losing record, it makes my job that much tougher. Some fighters let a lot of people get inside their head, saying they should be in the UFC or Pride, etc, etc... And many times it’s not that simple. But... I do have to meet their expectations too. So I take every opportunity to work with a fighter seriously and must be sure I can "deliver the goods" when we make a deal to work together.
Arias: Do you ever pursue a fighter or is there a fighter that you want?
Tommy: I have pursued a fighter, but I rarely do any more because I have to be able to give them the time they want. I would like to manage Randy Couture, Vanderlei Silva, Chuck Lidell, Fedor, (laughs)! But you have to be careful on pursuing fighters especially if they are already under a management agreement. If a fighter who isn't satisfied with their current manager were to contact me, I first tell them to break off of their current management then maybe we can talk. You don't want to backstab anyone; I try very hard not to do that. A manager might be a promoter of a show later on down the road and you don't need a grudge left over from anything you’ve done.
Arias: Would you like to be a promoter one-day?
Tommy: Of course. I would want to assemble a team of key players. A great match-maker, investors, a solid production crew, and marketing crew with good advertising.
Arias: Who has most influenced you in mixed martial arts and how?
Tommy: Javier Mendez from American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, CA has welcomed me from the beginning. Brian Johnston also has supported me and given me great recommendations. Don Frye was an introduction of Johnston's and he was very helpful. Danny Kelly from American Kickboxing introduced me to Johnston and I couldn’t have done anything without Danny's help. My friend and partner Alan Wiese has given me behind the scenes support, advice, and recommendations on many situations. He has been very uplifting at times when I needed it. Dana White was a huge help. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention Terry Trebilcock of the KOTC. Terry introduced me to Quinton Jackson and Bobby Hoffman. Quinton Jackson has also been very helpful. “Crazy” Bob Cook of AKA has been a friend, mentor and an advisor. Really all those guys from AKA (Javier, Brian, "Crazy" Bob, and Danny) have been huge. They are like my brothers. AKA is just a great place to go sit and watch. Scott Adams and Reed Harris from the WEC have been very helpful. Last and certainly not least, Paul Smith of the IFC has given me many opportunities. I thank them all.
Arias: Thank you for your time.
Tommy: Thanks to you as well.
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