Full Metal Dojo’s seventh card is booked for Bangkok on 31 October. The organisation was founded in mid-2014 and continues to go from strength with another event set for Phuket on 12 December and plenty more in the pipeline.
It seems like a good time to catch up with FMD’s charismatic promoter Jon Nutt. He has just returned from compering the Malaysian Invasion Grand Finals in Kuala Lumpur and is back in Thailand preparing for his organisation’s upcoming event.
Nutt also took in a ONE Championship event while he was in Malaysia and while his promotion can’t lay claim to being the biggest in Asia he is pleased at how fast FMD has grown.
“I’m really happy with the progress of Full Metal Dojo. I truly believe that as an organisation and promotion we have the ability to grow into one of the best on the planet. Everyone knows who the big guys in this industry are, because they are the big guys, but there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes in this sport and more so in this business.
Promotions in Asia seem to come and go, who remembers Ruff, Legend FC, Dare? There is no guaranteed recipe for making money out of MMA and Nutt is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground.
“What’s the statistic on how many startups fail? What’s the statistics on how many MMA organisations have come and gone in the blink of an eye? And now I’m playing the game of being a startup company and an MMA promotion and in a place where there literally is no real market for the sport. So truly from the bottom of my heart, just on the note that we are surviving and getting our fighters to larger stages feels amazing.”
FMD is based in a country with a long and distinguished tradition of combat sports. Muay Thai fights are shown on national TV every weekend and watched by millions of people across Thailand. The country has long been tipped to become a hotbed of MMA and is already home to some world renowned gyms like AKA and Tiger Muay Thai.
Dana White has gone on record as saying his dream is to do a show in Thailand one day while ONE Championship will reportedly be heading to Bangkok in 2016. The scene is growing slowly but steadily and Nutt is excited about the future of Thai MMA.
“I think it will be amazing. The market at the moment almost doesn’t exist. But this sport has clearly proven itself as the fastest-growing sport in the world and when the market opens up the light weight classes in the sport could easily be taken over by the Thais. If put on another path I could easily imagine Saenchai cartwheel kicking Conor McGregor in the head. The future looks bright.”
Anyone who has been to an FMD show will know that the crowd contains a mix of Thai fans and expats and Nutt is proud to be attracting such a diverse audience.
“It is always about 50/50 at our live shows. And I think in general we are split pretty evenly. I’m proud of how many Thais we have coming to our shows.”
UFC events are now being broadcast in Thailand with local language commentary and Nutt thinks this has helped to increase awareness of the sport.
“Since the UFC has come onto TV in Thailand we can see immediate growth. And it would be great to get other large shows to come into the Kingdom and throw events. Kunlun was just here and we had some former FMD fighters on their card but it would be great to have ONE Championship do a show in Bangkok. I’d really like to help out with that one and show the MMA fans here in Thailand a larger stage.”
So far FMD has held multiple events in both Bangkok and Phuket but Nutt’s ambitions stretch beyond the borders of Thailand and he would like to expand into more South East Asian countries in the future.
“At the moment the only events nailed down are in Phuket and Bangkok. That being said we would love to go to both Malaysia and Cambodia in 2016 and are constantly looking for sponsors in order to make these events happen. Malaysia would be amazing. I love working with the Tune Talk family for MIMMA and believe that an FMD show would absolutely rock KL.”
If attending a ONE Championship event or a UFC event is the equivalent of going to a big stadium rock show then FMD is more like a punk gig. The venues aren’t enormous but the crowds are passionate and knowledgeable and Nutt says he is just happy to be able to show people that MMA can still be fun.
“We at FMD are just a couple of friends who like to throw parties. It just so happens that our parties are the best live mixed martial arts show on the planet. We can’t claim to be the biggest or the best but I can easily argue that an FMD event is more fun than any of the others out there.”