Upon the forced cancellation of multiple shows following the novel coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, the LFA is set to make its return this July with a series of events to be held at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, LFA CEO Ed Soares discussed how the lockdown affected the promotion’s March, April, and May shows. He also addressed what made now the time for the company to return and what fans can expect to see when they begin holding events again in July.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Ed, take us back to March and the start of cancellations of LFA events due to the coronavirus lockdown. What was that time like and having to cancel events as little as a week away?
Ed Soares: When all this kind of went down, we had just finished doing a show in March 6 in Dallas. We had a week off, then come back (with a show) on the 20th. Things started getting a little crazy on that Tuesday (March 17), and at that point and time Arizona was saying they’d still do the show (on March 20). But then we started thinking above and beyond that, thinking about the safety of our athletes and our staff, and nobody really knew what to do at that point, so we decided to postpone that show.
We thought we’d stop this one (on March 20) and be back in a couple weeks, but about a week later I was cancelling the show we were having at the beginning of April, then the one in the middle of April, and fortunately we only had one show scheduled in May (that needed to be canceled as well). We were just eager to get back to work, but wanted to make sure about the safety of our staff and fighters competing for us.
MMAWeekly.com: What was it like to come to the point to where you felt you could start running shows again?
Ed Soares: We had to redo our business model, sharpen our pencils, and just really think outside the box on how to be successful. Following some of the UFC footsteps and taking what they’ve done (to hold events again) and put it in our scale of a business model is what we’ve tried to do. I feel very confident that we’re going to be back in July and continue on throughout the rest of the year.
Obviously we knew we were going to have to come back and do shows with no audience. We feel there’s been enough time go by seeing the protocols the UFC has put into place to be able to have safety. We partnered with Sanford Medical in Sioux Falls because they own the area that we normally do shows at there. They’re a medical facility, and we basically have a compound there.
When we decided to pull the trigger, we were hoping to be back by the end of June, but it took a little time to make sure we had the right deal in place with the right partners to make sure that the safety of our fighters and safety of our staff was put into place. We feel right now it’s as safe as it’s been, and we’re ready to take on the challenge.
MMAWeekly.com: What was the process like putting together these cards once you decided to start holding shows again?
Ed Soares: What we’ve done is gone back and looked at all the guys we had booked on the shows we had canceled, and what we tried to do was get as many of those guys booked for fights again. A lot of putting cards together was just finding out who is still available. Some of them went to the UFC; some of them went to (Dana White’s) Contender Series. Others that were there, we were trying to piece together fights. Some of these guys were fighting on two separate cards, but now they ended up fighting each other, but what we tried to do was try to build these first set of cards with as many fighters that we owed fights to as possible.
MMAWeekly.com: Is the plan just to hold these first few events and then go from there, or can there be a more long-term plan for the remainder of 2020 for the LFA?
Ed Soares: We do have a plan, and like I said, we’re very grateful to be partnered up with Sanford as our people that are going to be handling our testing and all that stuff. The great thing is everything is there. The labs are there; everything is there. We’ve created a very good situation for us for a first crack at doing more of these shows. We’ve tried to put ourselves in the best position possible, and I believe we have.
We’re not a big team, but we’ve worked our asses off. Sven Bean and Mark Berry, along with a lot of other guys on the team, those guys bust their asses. It’s really a team effort, and it’s great to see the team and the staff we have, because they’ve all been very dedicated to get back to work and start putting on shows.
Our goal right now is that we have four dates set in July. We’re going to look at trying to complete as many shows as we can in a short amount of time. We have some plans on what our phase two, as we’re calling it, is going to be. I think we’re going to be able to pull the trigger on that within the next week to 10 days. But I believe we’re going to have quite a few shows done by the end of summer.
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MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Ed. Is there anything you want to add in closing?
Ed Soares: I just really would love for the fans to take a look at what the LFA is going to do. These are unprecedented times, and we’re putting a show on, but there’s a few things I’m very proud of. One of the things I’m proud of is that we’re doing these shows making sure the safety for everyone is there, and we’re doing these shows without lowering any of the quality of our production. I feel you are going to see the same product you’ve seen before, and even better.
I appreciate all the fans that support us. And for those who haven’t gotten to watch us, please do, because I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised with what they see.