Mixed martial arts matchmaker seeks quality fights

Gabriel Monte

When a couple has good chemistry, sparks fly.

Matchmaker Eric Kucevic hopes for explosions.

Kucevic is a matchmaker for Clovis-based mixed martial arts promoting outfit Evolution Combat Sports, which has organized five fights last year and drew thousands of people to the Curry County Events Center and the Clovis Civic Center.

Evolution Combat Sports is hosting its sixth mixed martial art event 6 p.m. today at the curry County Events Center. The event features 14 fights, five of which are at the professional level.

Evolution president Martin Singleterry said expected seating at the event is 3,000.

Mixed martial arts, or MMA as it’s commonly called, is a combat sport in which opponents overpower each other with strikes and submission holds until one of them is unable to fight by knock out or surrenders via tapping out.

Kucevic, an Albuquerque mixed martial artist, has been training to fight in the cage for about15 years. He’s been a professional fighter, an instructor and a coach. Using his reputation in the mixed martial arts community, he puts together the matches for Evolution Sports Combat.

And he said he knows he’s done his job when he can’t tell the outcome of any fight.

In fight promotion, setting up a good fight is more than just having fighters go at it in the ring. It’s about setting up the right fighters to produce quality fights, Kucevic said.

After all, the product is the fight.

“I don’t care who wins; I just want to see the fight,” he said. “We have no vested interest in a particular fighter.”

The days of cage fighting being an all-out brawl between fighters who train in different disciplines is over, Kucevic said. These days it’s all about pitting professionally-trained mixed martial artists against each other.

“MMA is its own martial art now,” he said. “You find two guys that are good at everything and put them together to see who is better at everything.”

Kucevic studies a fighter’s record: Who was the competition, how long the fight took and how the fight was won. He views fight footage at least two or three times, and he interviews sources in the MMA community about the fighter.

But one thing he won’t do is deal with fighters directly.

“I won’t talk to fighters, because these days, everybody thinks they can do it (fight in an MMA match),” he said.

Instead, Kucevic speaks with a fighter’s manager, trainer or coach, who have reputations in the community.

And the research for professional fighters is enhanced, Singleterry said, since they are paid between $500 and $5,000, depending on billing.

Evolution Combat Sports isn’t associated with a particular gym or school. But a fight card does start with a local base, Singleterry said.

And that base has grown. In their first events, Singleterry said he had two to three local fighters to start with, now there are at least a dozen local fighters willing to sign with them.

Then, Kucevic finds opponents for fighters from around the state and in Texas.

But there is one fight, Kucevic didn’t have a hand in matchmaking: His own. Kucevic (2-2) faces King of the cage veteran Brad “Carbomb” Nordquist (7-22).