AMSTERDAM – Glory Sports International (GSI), parent company of GLORY, the world’s premier stand-up combat league, today announced the appointment of Marshall Zelaznik as Chief Executive Officer, leading the company’s global operations. The appointment is effective immediately.
“From the time I was young boy, watching boxing matches, I was always impressed with the talent, skill and heart of fighters who stepped between the ropes,” said Zelaznik. “I have been very fortunate to be able to work in the combat sports space for many years and to be given this chance to work with GLORY, to help lead its future, is very humbling.
“GLORY has done everything right to get to this point and I will ensure that my effort is singularly focused on continuing to develop GLORY as a place where fighters remain proud to compete,” he continued. “GLORY will be committed to building a platform for our athletes to showcase their incredible talent for the world.”
Zelaznik brings a wealth of international sports media experience to the new position. Most recently, as Global Head of Business Development and Content at Major League Gaming (MLG), he helped to maximize distribution opportunities for Activision Blizzard’s esports properties. While working as part of the team that launched the Overwatch League — the world’s first city-based global esports league — his efforts helped to secure a landmark deal with Twitch as the league’s exclusive third-party distribution partner.
Prior to joining MLG in 2016, Zelaznik served as Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). During a decade-long tenure with the combat sports leader, he spearheaded multiple facets of international growth including:
Content Distribution: Zelaznik’s teams oversaw worldwide media sales, as well as implementing promotional activities and developing pay-per-view (PPV) markets outside the United States. Traditional and emerging content distribution platforms experienced year-over-year growth, including the UFC Network in Latin America and UFC’s revolutionary OTT digital platform UFC FIGHT PASS, both launched under Zelaznik’s leadership.
Infrastructure Development: As Managing Director of International Development, Zelaznik launched and managed UFC offices in Toronto, Canada; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Beijing, China; Singapore; and London, England, where he lived for 5 years.
Live Event Expansion: During Zelaznik’s tenure, the UFC expanded into new markets including the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Australia, UAE-Abu Dhabi, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Philippines and Mexico.
Previously, as Vice President of Programming for iN DEMAND, Zelaznik was instrumental in negotiating distribution deals for some of the biggest PPV events in history. He developed key relationships with organizational partners such as HBO, Showtime, World Wrestling Entertainment, Pride Fighting Championships, K-1, Top Rank and Don King Promotions, to produce content featuring Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and many others.
“There is no doubt Marshall has the experience and vision to take GLORY to the next level as a global sports league,” said GLORY Chairman and co-founder Pierre Andurand. “We are delighted to welcome him to the Chief Executive’s office and look forward to him leading the next phase of growth for GLORY.”
GLORY Vice Chairman and co-founder Scott Rudmann added: “Marshall joining as CEO is an important moment in GLORY’s company history and indeed in the history of professional combat sports. Our mission is to bring the absolute best stand-up combat to legions of hungry fans around the world. Together, under Marshall’s leadership, we will achieve that goal at larger and larger scales.”
Glory Sports International also announced that Jon J. Franklin, who served as Chief Executive Officer previously, will step into a new role as Chief Development Officer. Following marked success in developing the United States kickboxing market after taking over as CEO in 2014, Franklin will now lead a team focusing specifically on further growth in the Americas to support Zelaznik’s global efforts.