From the tens of events that spawned from the submission-only boom of the past 4 years, two* have solidified themselves as the standard bearers, not only of sub-only but of our industry’s overall professional platform. Those jiu-jitsu promotions are the Polaris Invitational and Fight 2 Win Pro, two very distinct brand identities who have continuously improved their platforms and their entertainment value over time.
After unveiling some of the stories behind the masterminds of Polaris, Gareth Dumer and Mathew Benyon, we turn to America’s foremost professional grappling entrepreneur, Mr. Seth Daniels, founder of F2W Pro.
Seth has been practicing martial arts since he was a toddler. “I started Judo at the age of 3,” said Daniels, who went on to be a “10 time Jr. National Champion and the 2000 High School National Champion (…) also the 2000 Texas High School State Wrestling Champion“. Although his relationship with grappling started early in life, jiu-jitsu only became part of Seth’s routine during adulthood, as he explained: “when I was 24 my high school judo coach Paul Thomas and former training partner Brandon Mullins brought it up during Christmas. A few months later my tattoo artist Josh Ford invited me down to Colorado BJJ, I started up and was hooked.”
While training under coach David Ruiz, and later Amal Easton – the man who awarded Seth his black belt, Daniels started built a career in the event industry, founding Fight 2 Win (F2W) back in 2008 from which he promoted jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts events for years, adding music concerts to the busy list of shows in 2014.
Although still very much invested in grappling, by 2015 Daniels and his wife were showing signs of fatigue from life on the road, particularly with regards to the MMA and concert industries. Although unsure about where to go from there, the couple had invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars on production equipment” Seth referenced, and logic prevailed. “My wife and I came up with the idea of throwing Jiu-Jitsu concerts with the same strategy and production as we used in producing regional MMA events and concerts. This is how Fight To Win Pro was born“.
“The first Fight To Win Pro event was hosted in November 2015” Seth remembers, and “we did not know in the beginning if the event would work.” The Daniels’ decided to kick-start their idea from two regions they knew well, namely Denver and Texas, where they had successfully hosted MMA events for years. A show in California ensued, which propelled another realization, “in order to survive we would have to do 3 events per month to cover expenses, due to the tight profit margins. Once we figured out touring was the route to success we very quickly began booking events weekly that made sense for travel. Our goal is to average a minimum of 3 events per month“, and thus the F2W Pro format as we know it was born.
The start of the company was pretty bare bones, “I started Fight To Win by myself and a couple of loyal friends that worked for nothing” Daniels said, “we did not take on investors everything we did we did it our selves. In the beginning it was me, Missy Estrada (VP of Operations), Troy Everett (Jack of All Trades), Evan Burke (Production Manager), Natalie Mort & Gary Elkins (Video Streaming), we then added Kyu Lee (Truck Driver/Photographer) and Joel Harvey, Brittney Elkin and Dan Dykeman who do whatever is required . We have had a few others come and go over time but this is the core of ‘Team No Sleep’.”
The fantastic journey undertaken by this group of people has led to 112 events thus far (probably more by the time you read this), and over 3 million dollars paid to athletes alone. Achievements that are on a league of their own in our growing sport, and a reason why everyone that loves jiu-jitsu should support F2W Pro and other pro organizations like it, people who support and help develop the existing talent in jiu-jitsu.
The success of the F2W Pro team has also led ADCC promoter Mo Jassin to request their expertise in setting up this year’s World Championship, and you know what this means, get ready for a show!
* We would have added EBI to the list, though 4 of their last 5 events were under Combat EBI rules and we are unsure if the company is due to return to their original platform.