Seth Daniels and The Fight 2 Win Against the Pandemic
Seth Daniels is the founder of Fight 2 Win and an Easton BJJ Black-Belt. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Fight 2 Win is the original live BJJ event of its kind, hosting live events across the United States that focus on highlighting top local grapplers and creating an experience closer to a Las Vegas boxing match than a traditional BJJ tournament. Fight 2 Win events have the highest production value for live BJJ in the country, featuring a high-intensity soundtrack, LED screens, a 32-foot catwalk for fighters, an elevated mat to improve the audience experience, and a constant stream of entertainment throughout the night.
Morgan: I wanted to do a little interview on the future of BJJ tournaments. Fight 2 Win are some of the most amazing tournaments out there. Fight 2 Win was the first tournament that I ever went to when I was a little white belt. I even brought my partner who never had done BJJ before, and it got her so freaking excited that she wanted to train afterwards. You guys have been doing an awesome job, but I know COVID has been making it pretty hard for people to run tournaments. Has that been the case for you?
Seth: Well, I’ve had one one tournament since. I’ve obviously run three professional events, but only one tournament since COVID. I mean, I would have liked to continue to do them, but my business partners wanted to wait until things were a little more stable. We are actually planning on doing the next one in Denver.
Morgan: I know you guys started doing the women’s tournaments. I know a lot of people like blow smoke about how you can’t run an all-women event, so I thought that it was really cool that you guys were doing that.
Seth: Yeah, I mean, we’re not doing that anymore, but it has nothing to do with not being successful or anything like that. When we go city to city like we used to, there’s no need for it. If I find a market where it makes sense to do three shows, three weeks in a row again, we’d do it again. But marketing female fighters is about the most we’re going to be doing for that in the immediate future.
Morgan: What inspired you to start doing that, by the way, to do an all women’s tournament?
Seth: I want to be honest with you, it just kind of worked itself out that way. It wasn’t anything I planned on. I was putting together the fight card the top four fights I could put together were all female flights. So I was like, man, I should do the whole card as female grapplers.
Morgan: That’s so funny that it happened coincidentally like that too.
Seth: Yeah. I mean every one of those guys should put women on cards because it’s BS in my opinion. You should just support everybody. It’s ridiculous. A female world champion has the same value as a male world champion. With these companies, it’s more about metrics, their search results, their engagement on their platforms. I’ve never seen a line between male and female like everybody else does.
Morgan: Women weren’t even looked at in the UFC until Ronda Rousey started making a show of it. Dana White even went so far as to say women would never fight in the UFC, and now we are leading cards. Look at Nunes and Shevchenko! So, I feel, people just need to be exposed more. They need to see what amazing, engaging and technical fighters women can be.
Seth: Dana did that because of money. I mean, he made so many statements about, you know, he was never going to do this and that, and he saw an opportunity to make money. I had a woman headlining my first show; first female to ever headline an event.
Morgan: Was it Mackenzie Durne?
Seth: Yeah, it was Durne. And like everybody made this big deal about it. And I was like, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal or why people weren’t doing this in the past?
Morgan: So, when it comes to your tournaments, I see that you’re super involved in everything that you do. You even stepped up and fought in a tournament yourself when your buddy got injured. That’s pretty cool. Do you think that’s a huge part of the success you’ve had – how involved you are?
Seth: I mean, those days are kind of behind me. I’m out of shape now! I don’t work on training enough. But back then, I was in pretty good shape so I could do it. But whatever needs to be done is going to get done. I don’t know, I mean, obviously, like any business that you run, you need to be hands-on and know everything about it. If you don’t, and you rely on other people to tell you what to do, you’re never going to figure out what you like or how to do it.
It’s one of those things where it’s just like when you own a business, you need to know how to do everything, but you shouldn’t do everything. You have to learn how to delegate. If you find people who are better than you were in certain aspects, you should definitely delegate, but you should always know how to do everything.
Morgan: I know the whole “biggest party in grappling” aspect of your tournaments is really cinematic because it makes people really want to do Jiu Jitsu; to watch Jiu Jitsu. This is such a cool aspect of your pro fights. Do you think this is the way to get BJJ a little more popular with the public?
Seth: Regular Jiu Jitsu tournaments aren’t meant for spectators, you know. But you should be going there. If you’re not competing, you should obviously go support your team. If your husband or wife or kids are competing, go support them just like you do if your kid plays baseball or your kid plays football or anything like that. But I would never invite one of my friends to come watch me at a local tournament personally because they aren’t really going to understand what they are seeing. Afterwards when they see the pictures of the medals and they see, you know, like you out there on the podium, maybe, maybe it inspires them to go and start.
But I’ve seen a lot more change with the pro fight stuff, because we create this environment. We make these guys look like rock stars and there’s food and drinks. People can come and watch skilled athletes fight. They look at it and they’re like, I could do that. I had a 72 year old woman compete in Miami. So, it’s like, if this grandma could do it, every little girl can do it; anybody can do it. And that’s the beautiful thing about the show. You give them something to aspire for, which also helps out the tournament.
Morgan: Speaking of modernizing Jiu Jitsu tournaments, I like the way Fight 2 Win is doing their betting; just the way everything is organized is so modern. I feel like that also really helps. Like if I wanted my friends to get into watching BJJ events, I just throw your website at them and they can figure stuff out. I feel like a lot of other stuff is so much more complicated.
Seth: That’s why I started the betting stuff. I didn’t want to make money. We actually lose to eighty three percent of the people that bet on our tickets. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we make our money back.. The betting was still not designed to make a profit, even though this one guy is taking me for like eight grand a month, but it’s designed to get people more involved. So it’s like me and Ed were watching this horrible event this weekend. Well, we had all these bets.
I mean, I’m the house, right? I don’t actually gamble. And I’m the odds maker. So, people are betting against me. Every match, I’ve got money on it. So I’m pulling for one guy to win in the NCAA championship. If you didn’t bet on that game, or you’re not a huge fan of college basketball, there’s no way you watched it. But if you put 20 bucks on it or you play the NCAA bracket or something like that, you’re going to watch because it’s your skin in the game. My idea with the betting stuff was literally just to get people to watch more and to be more involved and have more fun watching it.
Morgan: Yeah, totally the skin in the game involvement, that makes a lot of sense. That’s pretty smart.
So just one last question, Seth. Do you guys have anything cool planned for the future? Any new ideas planned for the future of like Jiu Jitsu tournaments at all?
Seth: Not really. I mean, I essentially created professional Jiu Jitsu, right? And now there’s a zillion other professional BJJ events. I want to get back to the markets I haven’t been able to hit. So, you know, I’m working right now to get back to Ohio and Chicago and Atlanta and some places I haven’t been able to touch because of COVID. And then once California opens, I’ll probably never leave. I miss those people. I miss Hawaii. I miss being able to do pro events, and Colorado, which I’m working on right now as well.
And I think what we did in the pandemic is now being overlooked because so many events are popping back up. But I think we saved the whole sport of competition Jiu Jitsu. We said we’re going to do this. We’re going to abide by the state guidelines. We’re going to push for it because we push forward. Other people were able to follow. We pushed through all that and opened the door for everybody else. So, if anything, that’s something I’m most proud of, because I honestly think without Fight 2 Win, I think the entire competition stuff you see from June 2012 until now would be completely different, you know.
Morgan: Yeah. You guys are the only ones that had the guts to do anything in the beginning of the pandemic.
Seth: It was really hard. I had events where I put up an entire card and booked travel. We were there. We were in Philadelphia and got our show canceled. We were in Dallas and a show got canceled. We were in Miami and had a show get canceled. People just forget about that stuff because, you know, in three months, people are going to forget about this whole thing and they’re going to go back to their lives of being, you know, not caring about others and that’s reality. Everyone is going to forget about everyone else other than themselves, you know? What happens is always important to me because I remember everything. I don’t enjoy this fake conflict going on – like Brazil vs. the US. Where do you guys think BJJ came from? Where is Renzo from? Respect your roots. That’s why I made the public statement I did. Why are we wasting our energy with this division?
We were at the grocery store last week and there was maybe a thirty-minute line to check out because there were so many old people. And to me, it was like a fantastic sight. Because, I was like, this is great! These guys have been locked in their houses for over a year and I know old people don’t get a lot of respect. But when you’re 70, 75, 80 years old and your highlight is that you get to go to the grocery store once a week, or you get to go see your friends and play team Scrabble, and then people will be like, people will start getting irritated with them in line without taking into consideration what being there even means for them.
I know this is completely off topic, but I just hope that, in the end, people can remember how lucky we are to be able to do what we’re doing right now and how depressing it was when it was taken away from us.
Morgan: Yeah. When we didn’t have Jiu Jitsu at all.
Seth: COVID really shook things up. I’m sitting there in Dallas and my show gets canceled. They lose thirty thousand dollars because I can’t do any of it. I was like, “Yeah, sure. This can’t be real.” And then I had to change my entire life. I had to change everything. I had to quit wasting money. I had to tighten everything down. And it was hard; it was hard to survive this thing. Yeah, but clearly we’re walking. We are definitely not running right now, you know. But we lost around two hundred thousand just this last year. But I would have lost thousands more if I sat there and did nothing. It’s all mindset.
Morgan: Yeah. Definitely takes a mindset to survive.
Seth: I think that everyone should find someone that they can relate to that thinks the same way they do and connect. Then try to learn from them. I think that’s one of the main ways I got through this thing. I started talking to other people in the industry and we bounced ideas back and forth off of each other.
Morgan: Oh, cool.
Seth: But for me, like knowing that I did something original will always be something that I carry with me. It’s not going to be the money. It’s not going to be, you know, the successes or failures. It’s going to be that I did something original.
When the pandemic hit, I got all sorts of questions from people. What are you going to do? Should you do this? How are you doing? I don’t know any more than you do. I keep looking at myself. Yeah. I can survive here, but I have to make sacrifices. I sold 70 percent of my art collection. I got divorced and sold my house.
Things have been hard, and I’m ready for things to get back. But I’m hoping that people don’t go back to normal.
Morgan: One hundred percent yes.
Whether you’re preparing for a world-class event like Fight 2 Win or just starting your Jiu Jitsu journey, the Easton community is here to lead and support your experience.