Fernand Lopez: “ARES FC will be bigger than Bellator and ONE”

Courtesy of ARES Fighting Championship

The first event of new mixed martial arts promotion ARES Fighting Championship is just around the corner. The European-African brand promotion announced they will hold their inaugural event in Dakar, Senegal on December 14.

The event will be promoted by the France-based mass media conglomerate Vivendi, which has activities not only in sport but also in music, videogames, and movies, among others.

“They came to me and asked for my help with the start-up of a new promotion”, co-founder Fernand Lopez told BJPENN.com, “but I wasn’t interested in just ‘help’, I wanted to be part of the project since I’ve already had the idea of making a new organization myself. So we sat and chat for a while and now I’m part of Vivendi Sports as well”.

With such a big company behind its back, ARES FC won’t be a one-and-done show. In fact, they are already planning their next gig. “ARES 2 will be on March 21. The original and current plan is to host it in Paris, but since the legalization of mixed martial arts in France seems in jeopardy, we already have a plan B. We’ve booked an arena in another European country. Plus I can tell you we are going to make six events per year. Eight in 2021.”

All of those shows will be hosted both in France and in Africa, basically two unexplored soils if we talk about the current landscape of MMA events.

“We chose these territories on purpose. In France, we have extremely talented fighters, but they needed a television platform in order to fully display their skills. In Africa, there are tons of gifted, strong athletes but they had no big organizations to fighting in. Moreover, there are thousands of people that buy pay-per-views even if they don’t have much money, so we know the crowd response will positive.”

Looking at the fight card, you can see it is stacked with talent: fighters from all around the world, former UFC athletes, hometown heroes all are fighting on the same night, at the same event.

“We’re going to try and build our own exclusive roster, we have the money to sign anyone. In a few months, we’ll be bigger than Bellator and ONE Championship”, the MMA Factory’s head coach said. “At the same time, though, our athletes have a UFC clause in their contracts. We made a deal with the UFC, as well: they will sign our best athletes. They do believe in this project. I think we are the first-ever promotion debuting on UFC Fight Pass on our very first event.”

Fernand Lopez is not only the matchmaker and face of ARES FC, he is also the head coach of MMA Factory, one of the biggest gyms on French soil.

“I’ve accepted the matchmaker role because my gym has reached such a great level, my fighters don’t need me as they needed before. I have 21 coaches working for me at MMA Factory, the best coaches you can find in Europe so I haven’t coached any of the MMA Factory’s fighters competing at ARES 1. A promotion’s matchmaker has to be neutral”.

The event will be streamed on UK television, commentary by Simon Harding. The fight card will also air worldwide on UFC Fight Pass, commentary by Robin Black.

Do you think ARES goals will be accomplished and they will actually become bigger than Bellator and ONE? Sound off in the comments section below PENN nation!

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/12/2019.