X-1 World Events is “not the end of the rainbow, just the means to get you there.”
After the unfortunate events which led to the cancellation of Atomic Aftermath and the demise of several other MMA organizations and event efforts in the islands, Maui Now was interested in interviewing Danny Padeken, Operations Manager for X-1 World Events about X-1 to find out the secrets behind why X-1 is able to succeed where so many others have failed. What are the contributing factors to their longevity?
Padeken is the Operations Manager for X-1 World Events which is based on Oahu. X-1 was started by Owner/Promoter Mike Miller in 2006 and Danny Padeken came on board two years later in 2008. Padeken does the matchmaking, helps to coordinate creative marketing efforts such as commercial shoots, prefight interviews, weigh-ins and the production of the event. When Maui Now spoke with Padeken, he was working on coordinating interviews with Falaniko Vitale and Ricky Wallace for an episode of the OC 16 health and fitness TV show ‘Bodyworks by Champ’, to help promote X-1’s upcoming huge event Champions III at the Blaisdell on Saturday, March 12.
Maui Now: Why do you think X-1 has succeeded when so many others have failed?
Padeken: Promoters have a bad rap for not treating people right. They (the fighters) have trust in us, in X-1. We do what is practical. If we can do it, great, if we can’t, we’ll tell you we can’t. Promoters are known to give empty promises. These promises may pan out for one event or two but that’s it. An example would be the Atomic Aftermath at Schofield Barracks. High fight purses were promised. They flew in fighters from the mainland. Sadly, it cancelled before it started. Mainlanders vs Hawaii fighters was a good concept. There was a buzz starting, people got excited. We were hoping they would succeed. Had they succeeded, it would have kept professional MMA in Hawaii alive. We can’t do it all by ourselves, you can only do so many fights in one evening. We’ve been around for 5 yrs; I’ve been here for 3 years. Mike (Miller) has been doing events before I showed up. He did it by himself. My job was to help him succeed, to find creative ways to help X-1 improve. Mike will be the first one to tell you that even if X-1 loses money at an event, the fighters still get paid. The security, paid. The venue, paid. The lighting company, paid. Hotels, paid, flights, paid. X-1 might not make money every time but we keep plugging away, that’s the difference. Times have been hard. Mike didn’t want MMA to die. He went to smaller venues, kept it alive. X-1 didn’t leave town, we adapted and X-1 is weathering the storm. We took a break from doing large events for 2 years. Last March we both agreed that we needed to create a product that will make people want to come and watch; to put together really good match ups. Sort of like PRIDE in Japan. The best vs the best, no one gets an easy ride. You have to fight to win. We agreed that if we did it for a solid year, we could start to brand fighters, create a good product and Professional MMA in Hawaii might have a chance. So we looked for fresh, hungry fighters along with some committed veterans who had great personalities, a great work ethic and of course, who could fight. We started doing bigger shows in March 2010. Our first event was called ‘Champions II’. In June we did ‘Nations Collide’, an international event that had three fighters from Japan, a Russian fighter, a Korean fighter as well as fighters from California, Arizona and Hawaii. The Main Event was Brandon Wolff vs Dylan Clay. There was also an 8-man international tournament to crown the X-1 205lb Champion over three events. It was an expensive show and a great concept. September’s show was titled ‘Heroes’; it took place on 9/11, it was the anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster. Niko Vitale vs Kala Kolohe Hose was the main event and it was live on Statewide Pay Per View. The last show in November was ‘Island Pride’ which was also live on Pay Per View. There was a lot of things going on during October and we weren’t able to promote the event as strong as we normally do. We lost a ton of money on that event. All in all, X-1 has been continuing to push the envelope with its creative ways, our innovative approach to giving the fans something to look forward to. After last year, I think we did what we set out to do.
Maui Now: Other than Oahu, where else are you producing events?
Padeken: Molokai, Kauai, Big Island, we do cross Promotion. We’ve also done one on Maui.
Maui Now: Tell me about that
Padeken: The War Memorial Gym is a great venue. We had done an event there that Niko Vitale was scheduled to be the main event on. Lolohea Mahe vs Scott Junk was the co-main event. We had a stacked card lined up. Spared no expense on production too. But in this business, when you venture away from your hometown, sometimes things change that were agreed upon. We had a key fighter from Maui pull off the card by not showing up to weigh-ins or the fight. He went MIA. Later he was seen at the after party like nothing was wrong. Unfortunately, Niko’s opponent missed his flight from Texas, he didn’t jump on at all and missed the event entirely. Those are just some of the things that we faced. We tried to make the best of a bad situation. We would love to return to Maui to give the fans a great show. Maui fans are fanatics!
Maui Now: How was the Molokai show?
Padeken: We just did an event in January on Molokai and it was packed. The Molokai fans were very impressive. They were on their feet the whole time. I’ve seen events where the crowd would stand for one match, they stood for every fight. We were so happy for the people of Molokai, we’ve had Molokai fighters come to Oahu but it was the first time the people of Molokai got to see a live MMA event. The fighters got to fight in front of their friends and family, it was awesome.
Maui Now: Why is the organization called X-1 World Events? Is a goal to produce events in other countries?
Padeken: It’s more because X-1 World events brings fighters from other countries to Hawaii. We’ve brought fighters from Canada, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Korea and different parts of the United States.
Maui Now: We have seen many of the promoters who were previously producing professional events fold or switch to solely amateur events due to changing State regulations, cost increases, etc. Would you talk a little bit about your experiences working with the state and perhaps any challenges that you have had to overcome?
Padeken: We want to be an example. We have a great relationship with the state because we are all trying to follow the rules and do what’s right. Mike Miller and I work together with the DCCA licensing division for MMA. We are their biggest supporters, we have to be, we have no choice if we want to succeed. Alan Taniguchi, the DCCA licensing commission head for MMA was appointed and is trying. He is doing the best that he can with a very dismal budget and not much support from the State. It’s getting there. We’re paying the fees. All we can do is support them. It’s costing us money but we’re paying them, it has to be done. Local MMA may not exist otherwise.
Maui Now: What do you look for in a fighter and what kind of advice would you give to those who would like to fight professionally, in X-1 or elsewhere?
Padeken: For me, it’s all about relationships. You could be the best fighter but have the worst attitude or are difficult to deal with, I’d rather deal with the next guy. Of course talent has a lot to do with getting on our shows too. Commitment to our company also is considered. Ultimately, I’d rather deal with guys who really want to be here, I’ve got no time to baby sit. That’s been the difference this past year. Everyone has been very professional and it’s been rewarding for me. We just want to encourage the fighters. Let us help you to get to that next level. We’re not the end of the rainbow, just the means to get you there.
Maui Now: Are you looking for new talent and if so, how would you suggest a local or mainland fighter contact you?
Padeken: Contact me on our website x1events.com. We get a lot of requests though and sometimes it’s hard to follow up. You can also go to our Facebook page or email me at [email protected]. Give us your name and phone number and ask for information. Tell us your height, weight, pro record, amateur record. What school you are training with. We’re going to call your instructor, do our homework, try to watch tape or your live fights.
Maui Now: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Maui Now?
Padeken: Times are hard for everybody and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Pro MMA events in Hawaii are few and far between. We should appreciate that the sport is still around. Other promotions got out at the right time. We keep plugging away. For us to be successful and put on more events, we need the support of the MMA community. In the meantime we would like to thank those who have committed to make things happen with X-1; the fighters, fight schools, coaches and the fans. Together we’ll do it. Lastly, I’d like to mention the big event that’s coming up Saturday, March 12, 2011 at the Blaisdell. 4 World Titles, 6 State Titles. All shown live on State Wide Pay Per View. Here are some of Maui County Residents who are on this card – Main Event: Maui’s Dylan Clay vs Niko Vitale. 185lb State Title: Collin Mansanas vs Molokai’s, Sale Sproat. 145lb State Title: Dustin Kimura vs Maui’s Kurrent Cockett. HW State Title: Maui’s Lolohea Mahe vs Puka Bell. 170lb State Title: Zane Kamaka vs Maui’s Jordan Kekino and the preliminary bout between Paea Paogo vs Maui’s Kala Koa (not shown on PPV). Good luck Maui!
Purchase tickets on Ticketmaster.com or at the Blaisdell Box Office. Also available on Pay Per View.
185lb X1 World Title: Niko Vitale vs Dylan Clay
155lb X1 World Title: Harris Sarmiento vs Max Holloway
145lb X1 World Title: Ricky Wallace vs Eben Kaneshiro
135lb X1 World Title: Russel Doane vs Van Oscar Penovaroff
185lb X1 State Title: Collin Mansanas vs Sale Sproat
145lb X1 State Title: Dustin Kimura vs Kurrent Cockett
170lb X1 State Title: Zane Kamaka vs Jordan Kekino
135lb Womens State Title: Raquel Paaluhi vs Nicole Johnson
HW X1 State Title: Lolohea Mahe vs Puka Bell
155lb X1 State Title: Steven Saito vs Will Shutt
HW X1 Amateur Title: Paea Paongo vs Kala Koa