In light of the recent cancelation of an mma event, I have decided to pen the proper way to handle such a thing should it ever happen in the future. By no means is this a be-all-end-all must do list, but it will take a very bad situation, minimize the damage, and help secure your future instead of making a big scene about the situation, maximize the damage, and really hurt any future cards you may put on.
So you find out that you have to cancel your event. This could be due to any number of valid reasons to you. The reasons themselves, DO NOT MATTER. The point is they are valid enough for you to cancel your event.
The first thing you want to do is draft a press release stating your event is cancelled and give a reason for it. While giving that reason, take accountability for it 100%. It doesn’t matter if the state athletic commission screwed you over, your main event fighter pulled out with an injury, no matter what the reason is, take accountability for it. Have this press release ready to go public in a moments notice.
The next thing you need to do is call ALL of your fighters that were fighting on the card. Explain to them that the card is cancelled, but that you are going to be trying to find them a new fight in the near future, while also wanting to keep them on your rescheduled card. Then explain to them to not leak the info that the card is cancelled as you want to PERSONALLY call every fighter and explain the situation and after you have called every single fighter you will release a press release. If a fighter doesn’t understand this concept, just ask them if they were happy that you called them personally or would have preferred to have heard it from a random person on the internet.
After calling all of your fighters, send out your press release. After doing so, start calling all the reporters you can to get your apology out there first. This is important. Again, it doesn’t matter what the reason was, so long as you take responsibility for it and are out in front of the situation, you will be fine.
If your next event is within the next four weeks, put the fighters on that card. If it is more than four weeks, look to your competitors. Explain that you had to cancel your show and offer them fights. EVEN IF THEY WERE YOUR TITLE FIGHT. Doing this shows good will for the fighters, the fans, and other promoters. If you called a promoter because you had to cancel an event and put three fights on their card, who do you think they will call first when they have to cancel one of their own?
Finally, offer everyone who purchased a ticket to get a full refund AND a discount for the next show. Yes this cuts into your profits, but the moment a fan hears that a show was cancelled before, they are going to be much less likely to purchase a ticket to future events. If you give them a reason, other than the fights, they will go.
While it is easy to point out the things to do, and they seem like common sense, that isn’t always the case. Just so there is some clarification on this, below is a bullet list of things NOT to do.
- Delay getting your story out there. Every second matters
- Ignore fighter calls, emails, and texts about a cancelation rumor
- Point the blame at someone else, ultimately it is your show
- Publicly call out other promotions who try to help the fighters still get a fight
- Insult anyone related in the business, fighters, managers, refs, media, etc…