Interview with Cage Contender CEO John Ferguson

As we enter the second half of 2012, writer Donal Reid sits down with Cage Contender CEO John Ferguson to try and build a picture of what makes him tick while at the helm of a large domestic MMA organisation.

As I’m sitting in the busy hotel lobby scribbling notes and questions that I plan on asking I look up and walking through the rotating doors is John Ferguson, smiling with his phone in what seems to be its usual spot beside is ear like a large Apple earing. And unsurprisingly he is 15 minutes early….. I remembered that when we first met a year ago he had told me that his pet hate was poor timekeeping and that he would rather be 1 hour early that 1 minute late.

As we make our way to the table for lunch it’s light chit chat about the last Cage Contender event that has passed and the fact that UFC legend Jeff Monson has agreed to fight for the Light Heavyweight strap onCage Contender XIV.  One thing that struck me was when he concludes “Its great to have guys like Jeff on our cards, fans recognise him from UFC which hopefully will bring more UFC fans to Irish MMA events. People don’t seem to understand that UFC and MMA fans are normally quite different. Sure MMA fans watch UFC but the vast majority of UFC fans will not get off the sofa to watch MMA”

It gets me thinking, has he maybe touched on something here, it’s something I would never have considered but he seemed to have thought about it a lot and was characteristically strong in his view.

As lunch is ordered its time to get down to business and get on with the questions.

DR. How do you see the current state of Irish MMA?

JF. My opinion is that it’s in a great place right now. There are some pretty good promotions right from grass roots up giving fighters of all levels a decent set of stepping stones to progress their goals. My hope is that as the fighter pool grows the fan base grows which in turn will grow the whole industry in Ireland. The one thing if any that I would change is that fighters and smaller promotions should push more to get into the press and build profiles. We need to push past he idea that the only place to sell tickets is through the fighters to family and friends, yes I agree that every promotion including us still sells the majority this way but if we get it further into the mainstream and build the fighters into the stars  this will change over time.

DR. While it pretty unarguable that Cage Contender is the largest promotion in Ireland you do seem at times to be the target for a bit of stick from other promotions, does this affect you in any way?

JF. Seriously?  I hadn’t noticed…….. One thing I have learned over the years is that all you can do is control the controllable, that’s what’s important.  We don’t take too much notice of what others spout, that’s up to them. Every time they are talking or thinking about Cage Contender they are taking their eye of their own business and that suits us just fine.

DR. On a personal note John, what drives you?

JF. I have always been a determined to succeed and that would be my main drive in business. I suppose that opens another question as to what is success. I believe that success is achieving the goals that you set yourself. Each of us will have different goals if in life and that is what makes success for everyone so achievable. One thing is for sure it will take some hard work and effort, but will be worth it in the end.

Outside of business what drives me is family, spending time with my family and girlfriend Lisa is the best way to relax and enjoy the benefit of all the hard work I put into the business. I can just relax and be myself with them which is perfect!

DR. Have you any regrets from your time so far at Cage Contender ?

JF. (Laughs) Good question…… Yeah I suppose I have the odd regret, mainly about times when we got something wrong or didn’t deal with something as it should have been dealt with. We do try to get things right every time but sometimes we mess up. We are only human after all.

DR. Final question John, what’s next? Where do Cage Contender go from here?

JF. Who knows? We have the plan set out for the rest of 2012 and into 2013 with some further expansion plans included but the vital thing is that we keep giving fans what they want to see and continue making meaningful fights. As I have always harped on it must be meaningful for the fighters, the fans and the promotion that will not be changing no matter where the business takes us

I would just like to thank our fighters, coaches and everyone involved with Cage Contender for their efforts, after all they make the show! And a big shout out to the fans, you’re the best!!

So there you have it, the Cage Contender boss in what I hope has been an interesting article and insight into the man behind the brand.

Credit to

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.