Managers are supposed to be the biggest advocates a professional fighter has. But as long-time coach and manager Tyson Chartier explains, there are “sharks” out to satisfy their own ends on that side of the MMA game.
Chartier is known to many MMA fans as one of the top coaches in the sport, and a co-founder of what has been dubbed the New England Cartel. However, for as long as he’s helped to train talented UFC fighters like Calvin Kattar and Rob Font, he has also served as their manager under his Top Game Management banner.
Starting a management company wasn’t necessarily the main objective when he ended his fighting career in 2012, but it sort of became a necessity to help protect his friends and teammates from the perils of the sport outside the cage. And it still is today as he finds himself being a soundboard for frustrated fighters in the industry that are unhappy with the management they currently have but are strongarmed into staying put out of fear that those individuals could damage their careers.
Tyson Chartier on MMA management being a ‘dirty business’
“One big complaint I get from a lot of fighters that I don’t represent that reach out to me privately is [them saying], ‘I feel like my manager doesn’t really have my best interest in mind,” Chartier told MixedMartialArts.com. “But if I leave them, I’m told I’ll get blacklisted and he’ll screw me over,’ so they get caught in this MMA purgatory where they don’t love who their manager is but they’ve been told in very uncertain terms that if you leave that said manager, you will be blacklisted with the UFC or whoever.
“It’s tough man. Obviously, it’s a very dirty business on the management side. It’d be nice if there were some checks and balances there. That’s why you don’t see me having 100 athletes that I manage.”
Chartier on his reasons to represent friends and teammates Calvin Kattar and Rob Font
Chartier says that there are many “evil people” in the industry that aren’t looking out for a fighter’s best interest, and instead view them purely as a revenue source they are hoarding for their own personal benefit.
“I only manage people because I want to protect them from the evil people in the sport. I focus on managing people who I think are good people, have good teams around them and I want to see them achieve their goals,” he explained. “I started managing guys like Rob back in the day because I wanted to help them. He’s my friend, he’s my teammate. I wanted to help him.
“And once you get to a certain level, you realize all these people coming out of the woodwork just want to make money off these people. They’re just a number to that person. They’re the new hot girl in the class. They want to take them out, bang ’em and move on to the next hot girl. I’m not gonna let my guys be whored out, for lack of a better term. I’m protecting these guys from these sharks.”
MMA athletes have to deal with so much in terms of training and having to develop other revenue sources because they are not raking in millions like competitors in other sports. Fans are well aware that promotions, in the end, will look out for their businesses first. But to know that some fighters are also undercut by the people that are supposed to be their biggest supporters within the industry just makes the path of an MMA fighter seem all the more treacherous.