In a hire that could shape the future of UFC as much as any, Mick Maynard has been hired to replace Joe Silva as head match-maker.
Maynard comes from the Legacy Fighting Championship organization where he was Vice President of Talent Relations. He has been involved in MMA promoting since 2006. He was involved with launching the careers of Holly Holm, Sage Borthcutt, and Henry Cejudo. He also owns one of Houston’s largest digital printing companies, InkBox Printing, launched in 2010. He may relate to the MMA media well as he has a background in journalism, launching and running Maroon Weekly, a news and enertainment weekly in Bryan/College Station, from 2004 to 2012 according to his LinkedIn page.
Maynard will work alongside Sean Shelby, who has been promoted to Senior V.P. of Talent Relations. Shelby has been match-making weight classes 145 and below plus the women’s divisions.
“I’m excited to have Mick on board working alongside Sean [Shelby],” Dana White said in a statement released by UFC. “Mick has become one of the most respected people in the fight game and he’s done a great job in finding and developing talent. Sean has been a tremendous asset to the UFC for a long time, and I look forward to working with Sean and Mick in the years to come.”
In the predictably bland statement released in these situations, Maynard says: “This is an incredible opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to delivering the action-packed, exciting fights that UFC fans have come to expect.”
Silva departs UFC at the end of the year. Only Art Davie has also held the lead matchmaker position in UFC, back in the 1990s.
Keller’s Analysis: There will be a lot of scrutiny on some of Maynard’s early decisions, although with White still around, there will be a mix of people with influence on decisions. There is a chance there will be a noticeable philosophy change in how title shots are awarded or what types of fights are booked with the balance between marketability and excitement being weighed against relevance to finding out which fighters deserve title shots most based on merit.
The job description has changed a lot since Davie’s days in charge during the 1990s. I asked him in 1995 in a Torch Talk interview about the process of finding fighters for the early UFC events. “We advertise in martial arts magazines and other magazines around the world as far away as Europe, Asia, and South America,” he said. “We do press releases. I get over 400 applications per event. We boil it down to a short list of 50. Everyone sends me video tapes, photos, a completed application which is multi-page. Then I start vectoring in on those 50 on my short list. I check references, I check sanctioning bodies, I go out and look at them. I see them work out, I see them fight. I want to see them fighting up against somebody in their own style. I bring somebody over for them to spar with to see what I can see. After that I select twelve. In some cases I have some cancellations due to injuries. I’ve had guys one week out get injured and I’ve had to replace them. That’s difficult. I’ve never had a guy walk away from the event, saying he got there and got scared.”