Monday, February 25, 2008

The Pav Says… Sometimes You’re the Bug; Sometimes You’re the Windshield

Posted on MMA Junkie by Ken Pavia on February 25, 2008 at 11:50 am ET
By Ken Pavia

Never let them see you sweat.

I’ve tried to live by this credo, but I needed a moment. It had been a taxing couple of days, and I stood by myself outside the EliteXC red corner locker room backstage. Greg Jackson saw me, came over, and put his arm on my shoulder and said, “Pav, sometimes you are the bug; sometime you are the windshield.” This is how the week unfolded for my five fighters that competed over a 10-day period.

My very first MMA client was Ricco Rodriguez, and to this day, he is like a brother to me — a twisted, demented and demonic brother — but a brother nonetheless. In the first week or so after he signed, he brought Tiki Ghosn and “Razor” Rob McCullough over to my brother’s beach house, where we played some deep-sand football and watched the UFC from the night before. Razor had gotten up before everyone else and put in a two-hour gym session because that is what he does. I remember him taking a nap during the fights on what he thought was a bean bag chair, but in actuality, it was the pet bulldog’s bed.

Over the next few weeks, Razor and I spent a lot of time discussing his career and goals. These meetings somehow always incorporated working out, usually over a bike ride of 10 or so miles. He is one of those closet workout guys, who even though he trains twice a day, he never really stops working out. He is always doing crunches or running an extra two miles with a client or somehow breaking a sweat. At the time Razor’s record was an inaccurate 3-3 (it should have been 6-3). He had horror stories about past agents who had succumbed to drugs, had beaten their wives on dates with him, and made empty promises. Ultimately we came to an agreement and upon signing, he turned to me and said, “No pressure, but I made $7,000 in my last fight in King of the Cage, and if I don’t net more in my next, I’m going to beat the sh** out of you.” Well, he inked, moved into my house (I have a three-bedroom house in downtown Huntington Beach), and three years later, he entered his recent WEC world title defense with a 15-3 record.

Now, understand this is a kid who was homeless at 14. Somewhere on his path, he developed a unique charisma. Guys want to be him and girls want to be with him — in ridiculous droves, with one more amazing in appearance than the next. But life has changed dramatically for him over the time I have met him. We bought a mint rental beach house. He traded his older Acura in for a tricked-out Lexus, then another one. He gets daily invites to club openings, Playboy Mansion parties, and just rode as a guest in the Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico. Did I mention the droves of Playmates and porn stars? Despite his active social schedule, which is a six-day-a-week commitment, he always makes it to the gym in the a.m., and he commits at least eight clean weeks to a fight training camp.

Well, on Feb. 13, Razor picked a bad time to have a bad night. Taking nothing away from Jamie Varner, who is a worthy champ, those of us who have followed his career know Razor didn’t fight his fight. In the first round he was taken down and repeatedly scrambled back up. Instead of getting confidence and letting his hands go, he got defensive and allowed Varner to dictate the pace. Chuck Liddell was sitting in the front row, and after the first and second rounds, was calling me over to tell Razor to throw combinations. Despite being granted a controversial timeout when his mouth piece flew out — something we didn’t protest too loudly because Varner deserved to win the fight — Varner got a TKO over Razor in the third round.

As soon as the fight ended, I ran back to the locker room because Carlo Prater was fighting Carlos Condit for the welterweight belt immediately following Razor’s bout. Prater is a newer client referred by my good friend Saul Soliz. Carlo was 21-4 going into his fight and had spent most of his career in relative obscurity despite pinning the first losses of their careers on Melvin Guillard, Spencer Fisher and Carlos Condit. He is an ultra-respectful and polite Brazilian with an Oklahoma accent. He signed with us and found himself in a fight he had prepared for his entire life, and he never hesitated to express his gratitude.

In the first 30 seconds, the combatants clinched, and Prater threw Condit — Karo Parisian-style — landing in his guard. From there Condit ate a few elbows but was otherwise successful in neutralizing Prater from the bottom. Three minutes in, however, Prater made a mistake and Condit capitalized, sinking in a guillotine from the bottom.

Both Razor and Prater took the losses very hard. Carlo ate and went to bed. I think he had tears in his eyes for two hours and couldn’t stop apologizing to both Saul and me. He said it was the most embarrassing moment of his life, and despite our efforts, he was pretty much inconsolable. Razor had to go to the hospital for a few stitches and returned to meet us at Fridays with his posse for some food. He sat across from me in a booth, a blonde on one side and a brunette on the other, and drank Patron and Grey Goose straight from water glasses (he is generally not much of a drinker). His posse moved back to the hotel for some drama in the hot tub, but Razor was quiet and continued to drink. Despite the tug of war for his attention, Razor just wanted to slip away and pass out. I was up most of the night handling “situations” that arose with the posse, the girls that followed, and the alcohol. As a result, I missed my morning flight and had a hell day flying to Miami for EliteXC’s “Street Certified” fights on Showtime.

EliteXC was a great event for everyone but me. In my three years of representing fighters, my clients have never fought each other, so this was a first. James Thompson is veteran fighter who went 5-2 in PRIDE. Brett Rogers is a prospect heavyweight who was 7-0 with six KOs and a tap-out due to strikes. By way of comparison, public records show that James was making $25,000 to show and $25,000 to win, while Brett got $4,000 to show and $4,000 to win. I have really bonded with Thompson, and when I am not trying to figure out what he is saying through the thick British accent, he is usually making me laugh. Mike Reilly, Brett’s trainer, and I talk daily and have become cronies. Brett, though, is a little tougher nut to crack. He is a man of very few words and is showing that he is as tough as he looks. I like Brett and have immense respect for him. Despite only two years of training, he obviously has a bright future.

Now, generally I get more nervous then the fighters before the contest. But it is more in anticipation. This one just made me sick; I just wanted it to be over. Brett caught James and won via TKO in the first round. I entered the ring, and in awkward fashion, hugged both guys. I am told it came off Don King-esque on TV.

So, as I sat outside the locker room, I gave Greg Jackson an appreciative nod. It was back to the hotel for a late barbecue buffet they had set up, plenty of palm pressing with the ProElite/EliteXC brass, and then a polite pass on the after-parties. My guys had people with them, so no babysitting was necessary, and I was sick of feeling like the bug.

Ken Pavia runs Pavia, Ciscone, & Associates (, one of MMA’s biggest sports agencies and one that represents approximately 50 MMA fighters. “The Pav” is a former contributor who has returned to pen his weekly “The Pav Says…” column for the site. The column will give readers a behind-the-scenes look at an MMA agent’s career representing some of the sport’s biggest stars. His views do not necessarily reflect those of and its staff.



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