tagRomanceMMA Meets MBA

MMA Meets MBA

byqhml1©

I've become tired of stories of simpering females being rescued by manly hunks, so this is my variation on that theme. I know there are different federations out there, I just lumped them all together and called them MMA. Enjoy the story.

................................................

He rolled his eyes and wrinkled his nose. He was in a gym, more specifically a gym dedicated to training fighters, with the smell of stale sweat, blood, and other things he wasn't too keen on discovering.

They were everywhere, punching bags, lifting weights, jumping rope, and sparring. The place resonated with grunts, squeals, and curses, along with trainers yelling instructions. He stood just inside the door, allowing his eyes to adjust to the semi darkness. A man of late middle age approached him, with a look of boredom on his face.

"Another pretty boy in a suit", he thought, taking the guy in, "banker, lawyer, somebody trying to make money off the sweat of the fighters". Still they were a necessary evil, and he tolerated them if they could make their lives better.

"Looking for somebody?"

Mark looked at the guy, fiftyish, iron grey hair, sharp brown eyes, not aggressive but not friendly. He acted as if he wanted him there as badly as he didn't want to be. He fished out a card.

"Mark Stewart, Stewart Financial Systems. I'm here to see a" he paused, looking at some papers,

"Miss Bettina Burke."

"Betty Bang Bang? What for?"

"I've been asked by her manager to help her set up a financial plan. Seems there may be big money in her future and he wants to make sure she keeps it."

The man thawed visibly.

"Great. I'll tell Manny you're here. Come on in, look around, I'll get him."

He did look around. Not surprisingly, half the fighters were women, the gym was getting a reputation for producing some of the top ranked women MMA fighters in the Southeast. He didn't follow the sport, but admired their fitness and determined attitudes, prima donnas didn't last long here.

Manny Torres was short, thick, with a rugged face and a nose that had been broken at least once. A former welter weight boxer, he had risen to number four in the world, losing title matches twice. He made decent money, but managed to waste it all. Not overly educated, he was intelligent enough to go with his stengths. He had a keen and analytic eye, could tell if a fighter had talent, and even more importantly, if they had heart.

He had managed and trained a few boxers, all good but none were ever able to make it to the top. His reputation was well earned, if a fighter broke training or got caught doing something illegal, he was within contractual rights to drop them. He did several times, usually after exhausting all other options. He had gotten more than one fighter help, whether he trained them or not.

He started managing women in the MMA world by accident, helping train and managing a younger sister of a friend and former boxer. She had heart but not a lot of talent. He got her several matches, carefully chosen opponents with the same skill level. He knew better than anyone you could destroy a fighters will and future by overmatching them.

She won three out of four and was getting plenty of notice. Deciding she had outgrown Manny, she signed with another manager, one in it just for the money. Manny gave her some advice she didn't take before she left. Her new manager was anxious to get her name out even more, and booked a fight with the number six ranked woman in her weight class. He never told her, but he knew she couldn't win, but he thought it would be great exposure.

The woman destroyed her, breaking her nose, then grappling her to the floor into a submission hold. The girl wouldn't yield, and the other fighter, who had a bit of a sadistic streak, broke her arm. It was legal, it happened occasionally, but it was frowned upon. She never recovered, losing three more bouts before retiring.

Manny came over, looking at the guy like he did everyone, analyzing him as a fighter.

Tall, slender, he would bet money he was more muscled than he looked in that suit. Moved good, too, admiring the way he wove through the boxers, dodging suddenly as a novice got tangled in her jump rope, even catching the girl before she hit the floor. Great reflexes. Yeah, he could definitely train this guy.

"Manny Torres."

"Mark Stewart."

Manny liked his grip, strong without being overpowering, the shake of a man confident in his own abilities.

"Come into the office, Mr. Stewart, let me explain what I need."

They went into a surprisingly neat but cluttered office. Posters adorned the walls, mostly of fighters in the gym. He pointed to one.

A tall blond in fighting attire, holding her fist up and glowering. The logo read: Bettina "Betty Bang Bang" Burke. He wondered what she looked like when she smiled.

"That's her. She's got a lot of talent, will probably make it to the top, if I can get her to control her temper. We're working on that. She's got a bout coming up with the number eight fighter. I think she'll win."

"What's her rank?"

"Right now, she's unranked. If she wins, she'll probably get ranked. Ten, maybe even nine. She's done really well in her regional fights."

"Record?"

"Seven and two. Two on points, three by knockout, two by submission."

"What about the two she lost?"

"The first loss was her very first fight, and nerves knocked her off her game plan. The second she should have won, but she got mad and lost her concentration. Why the questions about her fighting ability?"

"You're asking me to assist her in managing her money. I invest a lot of time in my clients, that's why I charge more. I'm very successful at what I do, so I can pick and choose. Most of the people I work with already have wealth, they want me to grow it. With her, I'm starting from ground zero. I want to know if I'm wasting my time."

"Then why are you here if you think it might be a waste of time?"

"Once upon a time there was a businessman who worked in New York City. There was also a cop who worked there. On September 11 one year, something bad happened. This particular cop saved that particular businessman, carrying him down four flights of stairs to safety. The cop was named Burke, the businessman was named Stewart. The cop had three sons and a daughter named Bettina. The businessman had a son and a daughter. The son's name was Mark. The Stewart family owes the Burke family, Mr. Torres, more than money. Even if she sucks, I'm going to do the best I can for her."

Manny was stunned. Then Mark smiled.

"Of course, it would be better for everybody if she was really talented and makes a boatload of money. Can I talk to her now?"

...............................................

She came in the office five minutes later, glowering. Still in exercise gear, sweating heavily from sparring. Plus, she lost her concentration when the guy in the suit walked by, and her sparring partner gave her a good shot to the mouth. She could already feel it swelling.

"What a prissy looking man" she thought, taking in the crisp suit and highly polished shoes. Damn, not a hair out of place.

"Miss Burke, I'm Mark Stewart."

She stuck her sweaty hand into his, enjoying the slight frown as he withdrew. She bet it took everything in his power not to whip out a hanky and wipe his hand off.

"Call me Betty. What are you gonna do to make my life better?"

"My purpose is to advise you how to grow your money. I assume you have a career plan after your fighting days are over. It's my job to make sure you're financially secure to pursue it."

"What's in it for you?"

He seemed surprised at the question.

"Why, money of course. I charge for my services."

"I hear you charge more than most. Why?"

She's smarter than she looks, he thought, actually did a little home work.

"Because you get just me. Let me explain. Say you go with one of the big houses. They'll probably do a good job for you. They'll assign you a financial manager. He'll be handling you and countless others. He won't have time to watch over you personally, most likely dump your money in some mutual fund plans, maybe a few bonds as a security blanket. The norm is five funds. Every fund has a manager, and that manager gets his fee whether he makes you money or not. Your manager gets his fee. At the end of the quarter, if you make money, great. If you don't, your manager and every fund manager he has you in still gets their fees."

"I don't do that. No mutual funds. I'll investigate a stock and determine its' viability before I suggest you invest. And I don't make decisions for you. I give you the facts and let you make your own decisions. If I think you're about to do something foolish, I advise against it, but the ultimate decision is yours."

"And don't get me wrong. I'm not a one man show. I have a partner and several assistants who do research for me, but ultimately I make the decisions to recommend something to the client. If it flops, the blame is mine."

He paused, grinning.

"Of course, if it takes off and you make a bundle, I take all the credit."

"This was just a meet and greet, Miss Burke, to see if we can work together. If you want to establish a relationship with my company, call and set up an appointment. The receptionist will tell you what to bring for the first consultation.

Good luck to you, Miss Burke, I hope your career is a successful one. Here's my card."

He rose to leave. As he was leaving, he looked over his shoulder.

"Oh, and to prove I do my homework, watch your next opponent's left leg. It not as weak as she leads everyone to think."

Manny and Betty watched him go.

"Is what he said true?"

"About the money or your next fight?"

Manny was smiling. It was the first time he had ever seen a man come close to impressing her.

"Both."

"The money side, yes, he's supposed to be one of the best. On Cindy, I don't know, but you can bet I'll be checking."

Cindy Smith, the 'Memphis Temptress", her next opponent, was reported to have a very weak left leg. All the fight films they had reviewed seemed to confirm this.

.................................................

The night of the fight she was a bundle of nerves. It happened every time, she knew she would settle down as soon as the bell rung.

She had trained hard and was in the best physical condition of her life, one hundred forty pounds of pure muscle. She reviewed tapes of her opponent endlessly, gathered all the information she could about her in and out of the ring. It had gotten to the point where she could just about say with certainty what she would have for breakfast every morning.

Manny made her review her own fights, pointing out weaknesses and lecturing her about her temper.

"Bang Bang, if you can't think, you can't fight. And when you get pissed, you stop thinking."

They were the last on the undercard before the main event. She heard the announcer call her name, and she came in bouncing, trying to stay loose. Waiting in the ring for them to announce her opponent, the higher ranked always came in last, she looked across the crowd, and saw him.

Mark Stewart, dressed immaculately, of course. Seated beside him was one of the most beautiful women she had ever seen. Her whole body screamed "Class!" at the top of it's lungs. They made a very attractive couple.

The Memphis Temptress strutted in. Damn, every thing was a production for her, but she had to admit, she brought the crowd to its feet.

They got their instructions, tapped gloves, and retired to their corners.

The first round was spent feeling each other out, looking for weaknesses. The crowd booed, wanting action. The second round was a little more heated as they both pressed for advantage.

Betty had a black belt in Judo, was an excellent boxer, thanks to Manny, and was very flexible, thanks to her gymnast background.

Cindy was more of a grappler, with Brazilian martial arts and wrestling in her background. She even spent time studying sumo wrestling.

They pitted style against style, Betty dancing in and out delivering kicks and blows, while Cindy tried to gain advantage by pushing her against the fence in an attempt to take her down. Betty got in a couple good head and body shots, but Cindy shook them off and succeeded in wrestling her down once. It was a close call, she almost got a submission hold. Betty barely wriggled out.

They were even going in to round four, then Betty got a couple of good head shots in, splitting a lip and hitting her left eye enough to cause swelling. Cindy knew by experience it would be black in the morning.

Then Cindy surprised Betty and the crowd by doing a sweep with her left leg. She would have had her then but the bell saved her.

Manny talked to her while the corner crew checked her out.

"You two are dead even so far. This is the last round so it's now or never. Time to get down and dirty. Stop trying to stay out of her reach. Tap a few times and then go in on her. She won't expect it, get her down and make her submit. Everybody knows you don't like to win by submission. Make it work for you, girl."

Betty danced out and started jabbing. Cindy had gone mostly flat footed, barreling straight ahead, trying to reduce ring space. The right hook seemed to come out of nowhere and she went tumbling, but was on her feet before Cindy could press the advantage.

Cindy rushed in, determined to end it. Something in her eyes made Betty think 'left leg', and sure enough, she saw the sweep coming. Instead of backing up she did a complete front flip over the leg, landing right in front of her as she came round. She never saw the straight right to her nose coming, and was on her ass and had her arm locked into a submission hold before she could clear the cobwebs from her brain. She had no choice, she pounded the canvas and acknowledged submission to the referee.

The crowd was on their feet cheering. It was a brilliant finish to a mediocre performance.

Betty came to the center of the ring, hugged her opponent, and let the announcer raise her hand in victory.

She was surprised when Manny brought Mark Stewart into her dressing room. The woman wasn't with him.

He offered her hand.

"Well fought, Miss Burke."

She shook it.

"Thank you, Mr. Steward. Thanks for the scouting report. How did you know?"

"I watched her in the gym, reviewed her fights.

I do this with all my clients. How they perform in their professions determine how well they'll be able to invest. Now, a word of advice."

"Be gracious, smile a lot when you do your interview. Give credit to your trainer and manager. Praise your opponent for a good fight, thank the referee for a good job."

"Why would I do that?"

"Because it's good business. I've seen a few of your interviews, when you win you come off arrogant, when you lose you come off sulky.

That doesn't endear you to the fans, and a good fan base is an asset. It'll also make the interviewers spend a little more time with you, and exposure is exposure."

"Well, good night. I have someone waiting. Again, congratulations."

"Going home with little miss rich bitch,"she thought, "I bet they don't even sweat when they fuck."

.................................................

The next Wednesday found Betty and Manny sitting in the offices of Stewart Financial, holding the requested papers.

They were shown into a large office and Mark came in right behind them. He shook hands.

"Thanks for coming. Again, congratulations. What do you have lined up next?"

"We have a tentative bout scheduled in four months time, we want to make sure we're ready. She's ranked nine now, looks like it'll be against the number seven contender."

Manny said this with a great deal of satisfaction.

"Is number seven any good?"

Betty spoke up with a little pride.

"Anybody that's ranked is good."

"Really? How good are you, Miss Bang Bang? And where did that nick name come from?"

Betty blushed a bit.

"I had older brothers, so we played a lot of cowboys and Indians, dad would limit out TV and game time. I had the only two shooter in the universe when I was about five. All I ever said was 'bang bang' when I pretended to shoot, so that was the nickname my brothers gave me."

"Then when I got into MMA, every time I practiced a two punch combo, I would yell BANG BANG, to build up lung capacity. Manny heard me, and all fighters have nicknames, so he stuck me with it."

"Good story. You should tell it in interviews. Still didn't answer my question, Miss Burke. Are you good?"

She held his gaze.

"Yeah, I'm good. Really good. I could be champion. Not now, but soon."

"Good, show me your paperwork, please."

He looked over her folder. Making a note here or there.

He sat back and regarded them for a moment.

"Miss Burke, truth here, you've $25,000 earned from fighting. The sad fact is, most women MMA fighters, even the top ranked, make between a half to two thirds less than their male counterparts. Not fair, just a fact. Realistically, if you become champion in your weight class, and manage to hold onto it for two or three years, you MIGHT make a million two to a million five. Good money, and if you retire by thirty, which most do, you might make another million. Good money, but not enough to last for the rest of your life."

It seemed like a lot for Betty, raised on the disability and retirement pension of a cop. But she saw the wisdom in his words.

"What do I need to do?"

"First, we need to look at a manager for you. Not for fighting, Manny here is well qualified for that, but a personal manager, someone who can get you branded with a shoe or sports apparel manufacturer, get you live appearances, TV spots, calenders, that sort of thing. There's good money there, and you don't have to get hit to make it."

He took in her jeans and sweatshirt.

"Miss Burke, do you ever smile? Do you own a dress?"

She was offended, her face getting red.

"Yes, I smile, with my friends or when something amuses me. I own a few, but have little occasion to wear them. And I am NOT taking my clothes off for a calender."

He held up his hands in a placating gesture.

"I said nothing about removing your clothes, in fact I advise against it, it would probably affect you adversely. I was talking about something like this."

He pulled out a Women Of The MMA calendar.

"I admit some of the ladies are a bit risque, but none of them are nude. As for the dresses, when you start getting close to the top, you stop being a person and start being a commodity. In fact, when it reaches that point, you probably need to incorporate. That's in the future.

But the point I'm trying to make, Miss Burke, is the commodity is you, and any good ad man will tell you, attractive packaging is half the product."

"That's it. I'm not going to invest this money right now, you need to make a few upgrades. Don't think of it as spending money, more as investing in the future. If you're interested, there are some standard forms for you with the receptionist.

Have your lawyer look them over, it just outlines what is expected by both parties when it comes to your money."

He rose to shake their hands, the consultation over.

"How do you know all this stuff?" asked Betty.

"Research, Miss Burke, never underestimate research. If your schedule is clear, there is someone I'd like you to spend some time with. Mr. Torres, I'll make sure she gets home, if she agrees."

She nodded uncertainly, Manny hugged her and left.

Mark excused himself and left, bringing back the woman she had seen at the fight.

"Miss Burke, this is Ms Johnson."

She stood and shook, and to her surprise Ms Johnson asked her to remain standing as she circled her slowly. She turned to Mark.

"Yes."

"Good, Miss Burke, Ms Johnson will escort you home. Have a pleasant evening."

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