By Nat Wilkins, Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT, 1/6/18—In the run-up to tonight’s mixed MMA and grappling action taking place at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, BrooklynFights caught up with the event’s promoter and 20+ year industry veteran, Kipp Kollar.  As principal of two major fighting organizations, the Reality Fighting promotion, as well as the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), Kollar is the real deal, running some 65 events in 8 different countries per year.

Watch the live stream here and scroll down for the card rosters. Doors open at 6pm and fights begin around 7 with grappling first, followed by MMA. 

Of particular note, today marks the first time Reality Fighting has put on a mixed grappling and MMA card, a show format that isn’t common. Before adding grappling, the promotion was filling around 3,000-4,000 seats, with around 7,000 expected to brave the New England cold tonight.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 9.56.24 AM“Well the big step we took was to add grappling [sambo, wrestling, BJJ, judo] and that’s almost doubling our attendance,” Kollar told BrooklynFights. “So that’s the big thing that we just did this show that we’re going to continue to do.”

“I can tell you right now it’s going to continue to increase our attendance. We’re going to be double what we were the last time because of these grappling matches. We’re probably one of the few that is combining both and we just have such a beautiful 10,000 seat arena.”

“We’ve focused our energy in New England and Connecticut,” Kollar told BrooklynFights, pointing to Mohegan Sun as ideally located because of its ability to draw spectators from both the New England and the tri-state areas. He added, “Anybody from the northeast has been probably one of our champions before they went on to the UFC in the earlier days,” noting that two-time UFC heavyweight champ, Tim Sylvia, made his way up through Kollar’s organization.

The current roadmap has Reality Fighting doing two fights a year (January and June) at Mohegan Sun, while Bellator does another two there each year. According to Kollar, this creates a sort of synergy where more than a dozen of his champs have gone on to fight for Bellator.

Growing the Fight Business

Kollar, who has a background in corporate work, is an astute strategist when it comes to growing the fight business, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy in today’s environment. “So it’s much more difficult to put together good cards,” in the United States today than, say 10 years ago because of saturation in MMA, Kollar noted. His solution? “We’re worldwide. We do eight shows a year in other countries.”

Kollar added, “Chicago and all these major cities we go to twice a year.  We have two trucks that are constantly going from city to city. And how can we expand further? I said well let’s try to do events in other countries on holidays, so like the Fourth of July we go to London, Memorial Day we go to Paris. And so we started out in Germany, in Paris, and all these different countries—Spain, Italy—that love grappling but don’t have a company like us coming out there. And so we ship the mat, and rent a truck, and you know we just move them from facility to facility.”

An Eye Opening Encounter with Rickson Gracie

The story of how Kollar came to be in the fight business is an interesting one.  “I saw this flyer to come fight this guy in a seminar for $100,000 if you beat him, and all you had to do was pay $30 for the seminar. So a lot of my friends and I went and we attended the seminar and he said ‘Okay, who wants to go for the 100 grand?’”

Kollar continued, “He just murdered people like within 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds.”

“And when he got to you he’d ask if you want to go for the money. And you know I was smart enough to say I’ll go easy. And I got to fight him for five minutes which was fine, but there were people there that really thought they were going to be able to beat him and he just shut them all down with under a minute like one after the other.”

That encounter with Rickson Gracie of the dynastic BJJ family ultimately inspired Kollar to start putting on grappling events, which quickly snowballed into more and larger shows.

A High Bar

Kollar talked to BrookynFights about some of the challenges young fighters coming up in MMA today face, noting that the level of competition has increased so much “in the past five or 10 years to the point where if you’re not training full time, then you’re going to have a hard time getting into a tour show or UFC or even one of our shows.”

He added, “I mean when you go pro now, that’s a huge step.”

Strict Medicals

It’s often suggested that New York state is excessively conservative with fighters’ medicals, leading to too many fights falling out at the last minute. But according to Kollar, Connecticut sounds even stricter. For example, in the pre-fight medicals, if a fighter says, “My dad was in a car accident and died 20 years ago,” the doctors will order an MRI. It’s then on the fighter to schedule and pay for the test, which is often infeasible, and essentially kills the fight. “You know I’ve done shows in probably 10 different states and this is by far the most cautious group of doctors,” he told us. “We get 15 or 17 fights, but we know at the end of the day, there’s only going to be about 10.”

Stay tuned for more from Mohegan Sun.

Meanwhile, check out the fight cards below:

Reality Fighting Grappling Card



Fight #1

Randy Francis Strikezone MMA
Kenneth Rayside Next Level MMA
Amateur Fight – 145+1

Fight #2

Jordan Riley Nitsuj Martial Arts
Arslan Otchiyev Fighting Arts Academy
Amateur Fight – 145+1

Fight #3

Austin Schalla Dexter Vale Tudo
Redd Pottinger Next Level MMA
Amateur Fight – 170+1

Fight #4

Ron Marshall Independent
Gio Fiasconaro Rogers Academy
Amateur Fight – 225+1

Fight #5

Tracy Baldwin Thornton MMA
Anastasia Bruce Next Level MMA
Amateur Fight – 115+1

Fight #6

Harris Bonfiglio Calandrelli MMA
Tim Flores Fighting Arts Academy
Amateur Fight – 125+1

Fight #7

Matt Bienia ZenQuest
Nate Ghareeb Jon Manley MMA
Amateur Fight – 155+1

Fight #8

Billy Goff Dexter Vale Tudo
Steve Morrell Fighting Arts Academy
Amateur Fight – 170+1

Fight #9

Franklin Johnson Sampalis MMA
William Knight Thornton MMA and Fitness
Amateur Fight – 225+1

Fight #10

Hugh McKenna Long Island MMA
Jesse James Kosakowski PSDTC Warriors
Pro Fight – 170+1

Fight #11

JA Dudley Lucky Devil FC
Parker Porter Underdog BJJ
Pro Fight – 265 Title Fight