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Victory CEO Ryan Stoddard: 'We cut our teeth to get our UFC Fight Pass deal'

Victory Fighting Championship CEO, Ryan Stoddard, took over the reigns of the Omaha, Neb. based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion back in 2010 "on a little bit of a whim," he says.

Stoddard, 32, stepped in to handle operations for a brief period of time and really enjoyed every aspect of it. His purchase came soon after. His love for the promotion stems from the time he was a local fighter and his aspirations were to one day compete in the Victory FC cage.

"My goal was always to fight for Victory," Stoddard told "It was the pinnacle of the midwest. It was the big show. When everyone else was doing ball rooms, it was one of the very few shows that was in an arena here in the midwest. I always had a great love and affinity for Victory even before I purchased it."

Fast forward to 2016, and Victory FC is heading into Victory FC 49: "Cochrane vs. BBMonstro," its third fight card to be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, all while continuing to maintain a strong presence in the Midwest. Stoddard proudly states that he and the promotion have done things the right way and have earned every ounce of success they have achieved.

"You are talking about a business where you have so many promotions and promoters that come and go," he said. "The fact that Victory has been operating since 2002 and the fact that when I took it over and what we've been able to accomplish what we've done in five short years... No disrespect to any of the other promotions out there on whether it be AXSTV or even Fight Pass, we started from the ground up in terms of promotion. We really did it the grass roots way. We've earned our way. that is something I'm really proud of is the fact that we cut our teeth to get to where we are and get our Fight Pass deal. We want to just be known as one of the better ones out there."

Fight Pass has been a great asset for lesser-known promotions to reach a much wider audience, but Stoddard explained that as much as he was excited about the deal, it didn't come without worry.

"One of our big fears of Fight Pass was that we still had to give people a reason to come out and watch the live events in the markets we go into because if someone can sit at home and watch the events for 10 dollars a month, what is the incentive for them to want to come out an attend the event?" he said.

However, Victory FC had a good system in place long before the Fight Pass deal came along and so far it has remained tried and true.

"We had to learn how to be blue blood promoters and promote our shows and sell tickets before the Fight Pass deal came along," Stoddard said, who also mentioned FIght Pass making it easier in developing relationships with national sponsors. "From that perspective, our live shows is something we really take a lot pride in and really making sure that people know they getting their money's worth when they spend it and come out for a night of fights."

Fighter development is something that is "near and dear" to his heart, he says. It is important to be known as a promotion that "takes care of its athletes," and it is also something he feels is sorely lacking within the sport's current landscape.

"You have too many individuals that have managers or agents that are friends or don't have their best interest or they really have no clue when it comes to fighter development," Stoddard said. "This sport is no different than guys going into collegiate football, basketball or anything and the way that college atmosphere has developed them and prepared them for the NFL. I think that part of the sport all the way down to the amateur ranks is something that has really been misguided and the athletes have been misguided. These kids need to be cultivated in the right way. Someone needs to take them under their wing and put them in the right fights not just any fight. So many promotions are so worried about making money and not losing someone that sells tickets that they will just put guys into fights that A) aren't ready, or B) have no business being in because they want to save ticket sales or they want to be able to keep the income coming into the show."

Ticket sales aren't the only thing on Stoddard's mind. Victory FC has developed strong relationships and long-term/multi-year deals with local arenas, most recently Baxter Arena in Omaha. And its fans, who he called "amazing," have season ticket purchase options and other discount features for buying ticket packages in advance. He's made it a point to "grow consistency" and continue to schedule big events in April, July and December. His due diligence and attention is always paid there, but developing young talent will always be at the top of his priority list, he said.

"That is the future of the sport is being able to find and cultivate the next [Conor] McGregor, the next [Ronda] Rousey, even the next Jon Jones is something I don't think people are actively thinking about that side of the sport," he said. "For us as a company, we have no benefit from that other than continuing to develop and send talent directly to the UFC. It's something I really enjoy. For me to be able to work with these kids and change their lives even in the smallest way is something I take a lot of pride and joy in."

VFC 49 airs on UFC Fight Pass starting at 10 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1, 2016.

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