20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

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20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:13 am

Jerry Millen (front) with Fedor and his wife.

First of all I just want to thank Rizin VP Jerry Millen for being gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions from the fans.  We all really appreciate it.  Here at http://www.global-mma.com/, we love Japanese MMA and are really looking forward to the upcoming Open Weight GP!  Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Vice President Jerry Millen have been doing a fantastic job with Rizin, and it's great to have big time MMA back in Japan!

I have to say Mr. Millen is one of the nicest people I have talked to in the sport, and has a great love for the fans.  I was honored to have the chance to ask him the following fan submitted questions:  

Global-mma.com: Tell us a little about yourself.  What are your hobbies?  How did you get into the MMA business?  

Jerry Millen: I spent several years as a sports reporter for CBS Sports.  While covering conventional sports I discovered something called PRIDE Fighting Championships and actually did a story with Don Frye and Ken Shamrock.  I was always into the wilder side of sports and thought this MMA thing was awesome, especially PRIDE with all its characters.  I was offered a job with the company but before deciding on a position I wanted to see a LIVE event.  I was offered a trip to Tokyo to watch Dynamite which was essentially a PRIDE vs. K-1 event.  

I was totally blown away by the 70,000 plus fans in attendance to the spectacular presentation of the entire show.  Even more so was the performance of the incredible athletes that were fighting.  Over my entire career I had not seen anything like this and I had covered Super bowls and a World Series and had never seen anything so cool in my life.  I was so impressed by the fights that I had to become a part of PRIDE!  My roll started as the producer for the English speaking product and eventually lead to SVP of PRIDE Fighting Championships, which to this day is still one of my greatest accomplishments.  Even though PRIDE is not with us today the spirit can never be bought or killed and continues on in RIZIN!


Global-mma.com: Any fond memories you want to share from Pride?

Jerry Millen: There are so many great moments from PRIDE it is hard to single out just one.  Besides the great respect shown by the fighters to each other something that really stands out is the warrior spirit each one had.  One particular thing that showed me just how much heart fighters have is when Wanderlei Silva fought Dan Henderson on our PRIDE Las Vegas show.  Wanderlei Silva is one of the best examples of a “true” warrior and a great competitor.  On that Vegas show Wand had strep throat and the night before the fight was in the hospital getting it treated.  If you saw that fight (which Wand lost) he could barley breath and wasn’t himself.  But he refused to withdraw from the fight because he knew what it meant to the fans and to PRIDE.  

That’s why he is one of my favorite fighters as he is always ready to go.  It is a true testament to who he is when a fighter goes that extra mile to assure the fans get what they came for.  He doesn’t know the word quit and you can tell this every time the bell rings.  That’s why when fans boo a fighter who step into battle it upsets me because unless you fight you have zero idea what these guys go thru everyday from training to fighting.  PRIDE was the greatest MMA event in the world and will never be matched as it was a different era but it will NEVER be forgotten….  PRIDE NEVER DIE!


Global-mma.com: My love for MMA was nearly gone after Pride ended and when I heard about Rizin, I was extremely excited.  How great does it feel to see big time Japanese MMA back (and to be a part of it)?  

Jerry Millen: I waited 8 years for the return of JMAA, I knew it would return at the right time and I planned accordingly.  Many people don’t know that Sakakibara was placed under a very very long (as in numerous) year non-compete.  This was because the UFC didn’t want him back in MMA because they knew he was dangerous and the only real threat to their monopolizing the sport.  I stayed involved in the sport of fighting from MMA to boxing, working with guys like Pacquaio and Mayweather for years but my heart was in MMA.  

After Sakakibara’s non-compete expired he called me and asked if I was ready to go at it again and of course I said YES!  I respect Sakakibara as a person and it made my decision easy.  Not many people know how he is behind the scenes but he is hands down the best promoter in the business who actually cares about the fighters and how they are treated.  He has done so many things for the guys that I have seen personally that if people actually knew it would blow them away.  He doesn’t do it for press or for accolades he doesn’t because he respects the fighters!


Global-mma.com: How are the relationships and partnerships with the other promoters going? It is amazing to see all these promotions send fighters to Japan to test themselves in Rizin.  This is truly a unique and game-changing concept.  

Jerry Millen: It is always a challenge to work with what people perceive as your competitor but it is proving to be a great experiment that will only help our sport of MMA grow.  It has been a great journey so far visiting different promotions in different countries, it truly gives you the global MMA picture which is so important.


Global-mma.com: Is Rizin trying to get ONE FC, WSOF, and M-1 Global into the Rizin Federation? They seem to be the only notable promotions not working with Rizin. The partnerships are great already though.

Jerry Millen: We are open to working with any promotion from any part of the world as long as it makes sense and that promotion adds value to the vision.  In the future some promotions will come in and some may go as we will always be looking for the BEST partners..


Global-mma.com: Would Rizin be willing to work with the WWE or New Japan Pro-Wrestling in order to recruit new talent?  

Jerry Millen: As most who know about JMMA, we are always open to developing new relationships and developing new fighters from wherever they may come.  Remember Sakuraba started in pro-wrestling and look how he has become an icon of the sport.  You never know where the next great fighter may come from.


Global-mma.com: Who are some potential future opponents for Fedor?  Bigfoot Silva, Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva, and Blagoy Ivanov are names I see a lot of people being interested in.  With Cro Cop now being in Rizin, I would think Fedor vs Cro Cop II would be an absolutely historic fight to make.  

Jerry Millen: With Fedor it seems everyone is looking to step up to fight him as they know that fighting him, win or lose can be great for their career.  His next opponent hasn’t been decided but you never know who will be next to step up.  There are so many great possibilities.


Global-mma.com: Any chance Fedor will be in the Open Weight GP or perhaps fight the winner in a future event?

Jerry Millen: Fedor will not be competing in our OWGP but one of his younger guys might be in the mix..


Global-mma.com: Has Rizin asked the UFC if they would like to enter a fighter in the upcoming GP?

Jerry Millen: We are always open to working with the UFC and have offered them a spot but we know how they feel about working with anyone.  But it doesn’t hurt to ask;)


Global-mma.com: I believe originally, the Open Weight GP was going to be an 8-man tournament.  Recently it was announced that it would be a 14-man tournament, with two fighters receiving a bye in the first round.  Was this decision made to give more fighters a chance to show off their skills and make an impression?  

Jerry Millen: Yes, RIZIN has grown so quickly and we are being approached on a daily basis by organizations from all over the World who want to work with us that we decided to open the field.  Being that the RIZIN concept has been so incredibly accepted why not give as many fighters a chance to participate as possible?  It’s a great thing for fans and fighters alike!


Global-mma.com: It's great to see kickboxers like Andy Souwer fighting in MMA in Rizin. Is Rizin considering signing other elite kickboxers or elite martial artists from other disciplines such as Judo and Wrestling?  

Jerry Millen: Yes to me styles still make fights and I think fight fans still feel the same way.  I think it is refreshing to see fighters from particular martial arts trying their hand and putting it all together and going at it.  Souwer against Cruickshank is going to be awesome!


Global-mma.com: Does Rizin plan on promoting a similar number of shows in 2017 as they did in 2016?  

Jerry Millen: Yes we are looking at between 4-6 shows for 2017. To me less is more.  I think people need to be excited about events and when you are waiting for the next show it’s a plus.  Too many shows and I believe fans become disinterested as they feel they can just wait for the next one.  With RIZIN I think the expectation of the next show is crucial..


Global-mma.com: Will there be more Rizin broadcasts on SpikeTV?  Perhaps for the shows in September and December?

Jerry Millen: Yes that is the plan. SPIKE TV to be the home for RIZN, they are a great partner as well as Bellator..


Global-mma.com: How many weight classes will there be in Rizin?  Will there eventually be champions crowned in each weight class or will you be sticking solely with a GP format?

Jerry Millen: Right now are still in the feeling out process so it will be ever evolving...


Global-mma.com: Does Rizin plan on holding events in other countries? If so, will the rules need to be modified, for instance, soccer kicks, knees on the ground, and stomps removed?

Jerry Millen: Our home is Japan, our audience is the world.  For right now events will be held in Japan but we are always looking to do shows outside of Japan.  It just takes time and has to make sense.  As far as rules we will need to adjust as we did when we helped PRIDE in Las Vegas...


Global-mma.com: Will Rizin continue airing events on Fuji TV in Japan?

Jerry Millen: Yes Fuji TV is our partner and we have a great relationship with them.


Global-mma.com: Pride was great at building up legendary talent.  How will Rizin go about scouting for new talent in Japan and other Countries?  

Jerry Millen: We are always looking worldwide for new and exciting talent.  Being we have fewer shows it is tough to earn a spot on a RIZIN card but we are always looking for new and upcoming talent.  We are looking to help build the next Fedor, Wanderlei, Sakuraba, Cro Cop, Coleman, Randleman, Gracie and so on..


Global-mma.com: I really loved the concept of putting Sakuraba in a grappling only match.  Is this a format that Rizin will continue to use for older fighters so they can stay active and be on cards, but without having to take anymore punches?  

Jerry Millen: Always looking for new ways to entertain the martial arts fan, when a “special” fight makes sense we will book it.  That’s why we all love MIXED martial arts


Global-mma.com: Are there any plans for a Rizin PPV at some point in time?  

Jerry Millen: As long as it makes sense to keep our cards free to the fans we will do so.  I think it is unfair to ask fans for $60 for a PPV, especially if you can keep it free and entertaining.


Global-mma.com: Lastly, what can the fans outside of Japan do to help build Rizin and get the word out about this amazing promotion?

Jerry Millen: I would like to build a RIZIN army of fans.  Our strongest asset is the fans, you can buy all the advertising in the world but if your product is weak the fans will know.  You can only fool the fans with over saturation of a product for so long and I think that is showing in the UFC product.  So if MMA fans enjoy the RIZIN events, please tell your friends and spread the word especially in social media.  The world is so much smaller these days it will only take a short time to build PRIDE 2.0…

Thanks again for all your support and we will continually bust our asses to bring you the most exciting fights there are!!!

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by God of Thunder on Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:12 pm

Great Stuff! Millen is the future of real mma.
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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by God of Thunder on Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:16 pm

I posted this on the G-MMA Facebook and homepage
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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by fka on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:02 pm

Excellent interview if its ok im going to post it on mmaplayground.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by God of Thunder on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:07 pm

fka wrote:Excellent interview if its ok im going to post it on mmaplayground.
Please do so. We need to spread the word about the new PRIDE.
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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:17 pm

Yes! Please do. If any of you have accounts on other MMA forums, please post it. I posted part of it on sherdog with a link to our site. It has 180 views on there. Of course sherdog is very pro-zuffa but I hope to attract the people who love JMMA.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by MR.WILLIE on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:43 pm

Great interview!

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by God of Thunder on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:56 pm

Cool to hear Sakakibara and Millen were waiting for the Zuffa non-compete clause to end so they could bring back PRIDE.
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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:57 pm

Great job Kinosis!  Interview was excellent.  Really good responses from Millen.  Excited about where RIZIN/PRIDE 2.0 is going.  They have the right vision.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:57 pm

God of Thunder wrote:Cool to hear Sakakibara and Millen were waiting for the Zuffa non-compete clause to end so they could bring back PRIDE.

Yeah, that was interesting. They had to patiently wait until finally unleashing PRIDE 2.0.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by God of Thunder on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:04 pm

I wonder how Millen feels about his former promotion M-1 and how Vadim kinda turned against Fedor.
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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by fka on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:19 pm

Ok im posting it on mmaplayground,sb nation,and mmafighting.com

Happy to help this site i love Smile

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:53 pm

God of Thunder wrote:I wonder how Millen feels about his former promotion M-1 and how Vadim kinda turned against Fedor.

That's a good question. It kind of sucks that relationship fell apart.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:53 pm

fka wrote:Ok im posting it on mmaplayground,sb nation,and mmafighting.com

Happy to help this site i love Smile

Nice.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by fka on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:59 pm

Is his name really gary????? Bas rutten hates this dude lol so does a few others but its mma not surprising not everyone gets along.

I posted it on mmaplayground and sb nation my account at mmafighting isnt active until tomorrow.

Heres the link to sb nation
http://www.mmamania.com/2016/7/25/12279082/exclusive-interview-with-rizin-vp-jerry-millen

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:01 pm

fka wrote:Is his name really gary????? Bas rutten hates this dude lol so does a few others but its mma not surprising not everyone gets along.

I posted it on mmaplayground and sb nation my account at mmafighting isnt active until tomorrow.

Heres the link to sb nation
http://www.mmamania.com/2016/7/25/12279082/exclusive-interview-with-rizin-vp-jerry-millen

No, that's just the shills and others being disrespectful on the forums.


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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:29 pm

Thanks! And thanks for all of your questions. Perhaps sometime down the line we can get Mr. Millen to do another Q&A. There were a lot of great questions that came in to ask him, but I wanted to limit it to 20 so it didn't take up too much of his time. I tried to combine some questions that were similar and narrow them down a bit. It's been a great experience.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by fka on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:37 pm

Yeah you did well buddy i enjoyed it.

Only question i wish got answered was what kinda drug testing and fighter physicals are done.

I love helping as much as i can cheers guys!

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:54 pm

fka wrote:Yeah you did well buddy i enjoyed it.

Only question i wish got answered was what kinda drug testing and fighter physicals are done.

I love helping as much as i can cheers guys!

Thanks for posting it on those other forums. Sherdog and other MMA forums used to have a lot of fighters around back in the day but the trolls and generally crappy posters drove them away over time. I'd like to create an environment here where fighters/promoters can interact with fans and not be bashed. If anyone has any interaction with any promoters or fighters on social media, try to set up something similar with them. It will help promote them and help us grow. It's a win/win.

The whole thing popped into my head when I was thinking about how much MMA media sucks these days. Most sites are paid by the ufc so they are extremely bias and don't even cover other organizations (unless it's an article bashing them for some reason), so why not just start doing our own media, where we actually care about the truth and aren't on the payroll of the ufc?

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:03 pm

Kinosis wrote:Thanks!  And thanks for all of your questions.  Perhaps sometime down the line we can get Mr. Millen to do another Q&A.  There were a lot of great questions that came in to ask him, but I wanted to limit it to 20 so it didn't take up too much of his time.  I tried to combine some questions that were similar and narrow them down a bit.  It's been a great experience.    

No problem. 20 questions seemed like a good number as a limit. Combining some of the similar questions was a good way to handle it.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:06 pm

Kinosis wrote:
fka wrote:Yeah you did well buddy i enjoyed it.

Only question i wish got answered was what kinda drug testing and fighter physicals are done.

I love helping as much as i can cheers guys!

Thanks for posting it on those other forums.  Sherdog and other MMA forums used to have a lot of fighters around back in the day but the trolls and generally crappy posters drove them away over time.  I'd like to create an environment here where fighters/promoters can interact with fans and not be bashed.  If anyone has any interaction with any promoters or fighters on social media, try to set up something similar with them.  It will help promote them and help us grow.  It's a win/win.  

The whole thing popped into my head when I was thinking about how much MMA media sucks these days.  Most sites are paid by the ufc so they are extremely bias and don't even cover other organizations (unless it's an article bashing them for some reason), so why not just start doing our own media, where we actually care about the truth and aren't on the payroll of the ufc?

Good thoughts. Would be great if they felt free to post here.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:09 pm

4 - 6 shows in 2017 sounds like a good number.  I agree with Millen that limiting the events is the way to go.  Better not to over-saturate the events which gives the fans something to really look forward to.


Last edited by CDF47 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kingfedor on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:14 pm

Good job kinosis

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:58 pm

CDF47 wrote:4 - 6 shows in 2017 sounds like a good number.  I agree with Millen that limiting the events is the way to go.  Better not to over-saturate the events which gives the fans something to really look forward to.

Yup, I'd much rather have 4 stacked cards than 50 crappy cards like the ufc puts on. Even with 6 a year they could do 3 or 4 big cards and then 2-3 cards solely for building contenders with maybe 1 big name guy on it for the main event.

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Re: 20 Questions with Rizin VP Jerry Millen

Post by Kinosis on Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:00 pm

Kingfedor wrote:Good job kinosis

Thanks!

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Kinosis
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