Paradigm Sports has been around since 2009 and has reached a level of success within management companies that few are able to obtain. Some would point to the amount of experience that president Audie Attar was able to bring with him before starting the firm, others would say it was his hard work. But Attar credits it to something different; his philosophy that it is a team effort.
Attar started in the sports management industry with a large NFL firm. He worked his way up the ranks inside the agency representing some of the best athletes in the NFL. He continued his quest for knowledge of the sport and went to grad school. When it was done, Attar had decided that it was time to move on, and try to make his own impact in the industry. But as he tells it, sports in general were a major influence on his life.
“Sports have blessed me beyond belief. It really saved my life in so many ways. It created an opportunity for me to gain an education and meet some wonderful people. Then after I was done participating as an athlete, it gave me a career.”
Being an athlete through out high school and college, Attar was able to learn how to be successful from his coaches both on and off the field. This mentality, a coach’s mentality, is how he attacks being a manager of fighters.
“Everyone has their own opinion on how to handle their clients. We may not be the right fit for certain athletes, but this is a team effort. They aren’t hiring you to be your best friend. They want a certain leader to help them achieve their goals. So you have to have the type of relationship, open and honest, where you can communicate back and forth. You have to be able to tell them something they don’t want to hear. You can’t be the yes man. At the same time they have to believe that you bust your butt and your intentions are always to maximize their potential in whatever manner that is. It is a team effort. A professional athlete hires a coach and he’s working for that athlete, but at the same time, the athlete wants that direction from the coach.”
Transitioning from football players to fighters was all about timing for Attar. The sport is still young and new, yet he brings with him the years of experience of managing athletes before the sport took off. Some things are easier to deal with when it comes to fighters, others more difficult. The biggest difference between managing the two types of athletes is pay.
An undrafted NFL player that makes the practice squad will make $90,000 a year and if you do make the 53 man roster, they make $400,000 for the year. A fighter who signs with the UFC for the first time will be earning $8,000 to show and additional $8,000 if he wins per fight. Typically a new signee to the UFC will only fight 2-3 times a year, so the pay is vastly different. That difference though is what attracted Attar to managing fighters. How a fighter manages to hold down a second job, train, stay respectful, and show the drive and discipline to push forward to be the best, is remarkable for Attar.
One thing that Attar mentions time and time again is the level of professionalism that he is able to bring to the table compared to some other companies. His years managing football players and watching the top agents do their job, some for 30-40 years, all was brought with him to Paradigm.
And it is something that he stresses with his clients. His focus isn’t just about the singular next fight that could be coming, rather a stress on how to best maximize their clients’ potential as an athlete. What can they do to help them grow as businessmen? There’s a life after sports as Attar is well aware of, and part of his job is ensuring that his athletes are able to have one when they hang up the gloves.
Some fighters that Attar manages, such as Michael Bisping, have started adopting this new way of thinking. He’s very aware of not only his actions on social media, but also when it comes to press conferences. It is not uncommon to see Bisping show up in a suit, while his opponent is in a t-shirt. Of course some fighters are contractually bound to wear the t-shirt and Attar is aware of that. Sometimes that means he pushes a little, even if it means shaking up how things were done in the company previously.
The hardest part for Attar and his team is showing fighters the path that they are going to be on and take. Even in discussing this topic, Attar makes it sound like it is almost easy.
“I think with any athlete you have to manage expectations keep their drive and that energy controlled so we’re channeling it effectively towards their progression. Sometimes an athlete wants to be now now now. They wouldn’t be where they were if they didn’t have that drive. I am the same way. It’s a Type A personality. As you get older, you learn to control that so you become more effective in whatever you are doing.”
As Attar stated, it is a team effort. Even if the outcomes aren’t the ideal ones or the envisioned ones, everyone has to give their all for each other.
“They’re training their ass off three times a day. They leave everything they got in that gym. I better leave everything I’ve got in what I am doing. That way, if the end result isn’t what we wanted, it is still the honest one. I know that I can look them in the eyes and say here’s the best we could do.”
Paradigm Sports manages the likes of Michael Bisping, Christian M’Pumbu, Court McGee, Jake Shields, Ben Saunders, Mike Pierce and many more high level fighters in the UFC and Bellator. For more information on Paradigm visit them at www.paradigmsm.com