Q & A with AFL CEO B.J. Santiago

Onslaught of initials aside, this Q & A from Junkie covers a lot of topics - Santiago doesn't let out some of the info I'm sure everybody wants to know, such as exactly who the AFL's financial backers are, and how they're affording to pay for everything, but it's an interesting interview nonetheless.

I've posted a piece of it - you can check out the rest on MMA Junkie here.

Check after the jump for the rest.

MMAjunkie.com: The AFL had promised a pay-per-view card this year. What happened to that planned event?

B.J. Santiago: A lot of the things that we had on our business plan unfortunately just got recently affected by the economy. One of the things that we have is we're probably just a little bit more disciplined than everybody else. We're financed mainly out of some financial institutions out of New York City. So we have a board of directors just like every other major company. We don't have the green light to just move forward on things if the economy doesn't say that's what you need to do.

And unfortunately, we're not as financially big as the UFC. So we have to do things a little bit smarter, a little bit less frivolous. You take a look at the spending habits of some other organizations that have recently gone under; if we had followed that suit, people would just say, 'Are they complete idiots? I mean everyone else has just gone down the drain.' If we slow up a little bit, if we just have a little bit sharper business plan -- delaying things isn't the end of the world. But come 2009, quarter one, when we launch our new season, we'll be better financially prepared to do so.

MMAjunkie.com: Your financial backing has been in question from the inception of your organization. What more can you tell us about the "financial institutions out of New York City" that are behind the AFL?

B.J. Santiago: We have just different funds that work. I'm going to keep those confidential for right now. They're out of Manhattan. We've got a few different really solid groups that are part of a privately held company that are financing us right now.

MMAjunkie.com: What is your reasoning behind keeping those identities confidential?

B.J. Santiago: Same thing as if you asked the UFC for their financials. Nobody is going to really talk about that. If it's a publicly traded company, it's a different story.

As I stated in this post yesterday, I think the AFL is going about this the right way. They're not relying on exclusivity to establish their brand name, but are trusting the fact that people nationwide want more mma, and they're working with multiple affiliate promoters to give the fans what they want.

It sounds like a good arrangement. That way, the fans can see their local fighters while knowing that they stand a shot at performing on a national stage. This shotgun approach the AFL is taking to widen their talent pool seems like a great way to draw from a huge group of fighters. However, given the general state of the economy and the fact that promotions are failing all over the place, only time will tell.


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