Founder Jesse Nunez and Ryan Quinn Discuss the Expansion of EAFL
Elite Amateur Fight League (EAFL) has made a huge addition to their staff adding on Ryan Quinn. Quinn will serve as Director of League Expansion. Quinn, a long time Bellator MMA veteran in his professional day, is currently the coach of the amateur MMA fighters at American Top Team, one of the world’s most renown fight teams. Let’s take a deeper dive into EAFL and the man that will continue the growth of this organization changing the way the sport is displayed. We will also explore the creation of EAFL and the operation of the organization.
The Creation of EAFL With Found Jesse Nunez
So what is EAFL and how did it get started? The man behind the operation is the founder Jesse Nunez. In a nutshell, EAFL was created to move regional MMA fighters to a national platform and level of exposure only professionals receive. “I am a producer by trade and had an opportunity to produce a show called Fighter 1st,” Nunez told MyMMANews. “During the run of that show I identified a huge hole in the MMA industry. I noticed MMA was very silo’ed and had a ton of talent, but the talent was basically unproven. I also noticed that regional MMA is promoter focused. Meaning the events are focused around the promoters being successful. Fighter experience and exposure usually take a back seat to the promoter’s profits.”
National Platform for Amateurs
Nunez brought up a very interesting perspective on the “unsung superstars” of sports. He stated regional MMA is similar to a major college program playing all their home games on their home field against local, inferior teams. The major program athletes wouldn’t get exposure on a national level and they would never really know how good they were truly. “This is why even dedicated MMA fans don’t know who the fighters are on the bottom half of the UFC card. This is also why fighters new to the pro promotion get paid so much less than rookie athletes in other sports,” Nunez said. “Would there be a Steph Curry without the NCAA tourney? Would rookie quarterbacks sign multi-million dollar deals without the NCAA? Nope!” said Nunez.
So Nunez decided to seek out any promotion pitting the best amateur fighters in the country against each other to promote on the Fighter 1st show. Unfortunately, he was unable to find such a thing. Nunez decided on a long drive back from Omaha, Nebraska to Chicago, it was time to create the Elite Amateur Fight League (EAFL.) In a motto, EAFL was created “to help them (amateur fighters) build themselves into a valuable product big professional promotions will want to sign, all while giving fans a singular place to watch the best amateur MMA fighters in America,” according to Nunez.
How Does the EAFL Model Work?
How Does the Team System Work?
Each teams consists of seven fighters which range from flyweight (125lbs) to light heavyweight (205lbs.) The scoring works similar to that of the NBA Finals or the MLB World Series. Similarly, each win is a point for your team and the team with the most points wins their round of competition. So how are the teams comprised you may be asking. Each team is represented by a state. Some examples include Florida Force, Illinois Inferno, and the Tennessee Wild.
“As of right now we have 12 teams with returning coaches and camps, representing their respective states from notable camps around the United States,” Ryan Quinn told MyMMANews. “The goal is to fill the league with 32 teams. We really want to showcase the young talent in the country. The league works as a playoff and is divided into a Western and Eastern Conference, similar to NBA and NHL. Winning teams from each conference see each other in the finals and compete to be national champions.”
How Are the Teams Comprised?
This is where Ryan Quinn comes into the picture. Quinn has years of experience in the sport and a multitude of connections throughout the sport. The Florida’s MMA Coach of the Year will look to take the best amateurs and put them on one stage. “We search each MMA scene in each state to find the highest ranked fighters at each weight class and contact the coaches and fighters,” Nunez said. “Then we offer spots on the team if the fighters are interested in competing on a national level. This is where Ryan will come in and do a great job. He is connected to a lot of the coaches and gyms around the country.”
“Expanding the 32 teams is where I come in,” Quinn advised. “Being in the industry as long as I have, I plan to utilize my assets to grow the league with elite coaches and the best fighters their state has to offer. Our vision is to get people to associate the EAFL with the Rose Bowl, March Madness, and NCAA National Wrestling Championships. We are going to do it and we have a team of like-minded individuals who believe in the value of hard work. We are going to lock arms and take this thing to the limit.”
Growing and Expanding
Look for EAFL to really start making a push toward expansion. They would eventually love to reach their goal of 32 teams. “We plan to have a controlled growth adding two to four teams per year until we hit 32,” Nunez stated. However, if the organization can make a big boom in the industry, it would be nice to hit the 32 team mark within the next three years. Above all, a lot of that come backs to raised income.
The Upcoming Season
EAFL will begin season 4 when the organization can get back up and running. “We plan to start season 4 in the 4th quarter of 2020, but we just don’t know where and when we will be able to have the event,” Nunez said. “Every state will open with different restrictions and we will have to wait and see what state and venue will be open to us hosting a live sporting event. Secondly, we will have to travel teams to the location and not everyone is comfortable with air travel at this time. Lastly, we take the safety and health of all of our staff, athletes, and fans very seriously. There is no reason for us to rush into season 4 until this pandemic is under control.”
Who is Ryan Quinn?
Anyone who has heard of American Top Team has probably heard of Ryan Quinn. After his time wrestling for Division I Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Quinn still felt that need and desire to compete so he walked into American Top Team-CT. Eventually Quinn relocated to the main ATT location in Coconut Creek, Florida. After retiring, Quinn decided to stay apart of the sport and began coaching at American Top Team.
Last year Quinn earned Coach of the Year in the Florida MMA Awards. Florida MMA Awards posted the following excerpt on Quinn’s page on the site. “Cornered 20 different fighters with over 40 different fights. His fighters were in 8 title fights (1 champion) Started the year 2-7 before going on a 12 fight run and finishing 24-6 in his last 30. He was a major part of camps with professional fighters as well. Including Dustin Poirier, Jorge Masvidal (both with championship bouts) Gillian Robertson and Sapo Dos Santos.”
Continuing MMA Career with EAFL
Quinn was introduced to EAFL in 2018 when he was asked to coach the Florida team, Florida Force. As of now Quinn still serves as the team’s coach. “Being it’s my goal to groom young fighters into world-class competitors and find them recognition, I was super stoked about what Jesse and EAFL are looking to do and when he asked me to work on the front office team going forward, I couldn’t refuse,” Quinn exclaimed. “The vision is there and we are going to put amateur MMA as well as team MMA league on the map. When these fighters go onto the professional level and Joe Rogan and John McCarthy are talking about their resume, you’re going to hear about how they were apart of that EAFL national championship squad before turning pro.”
With the addition of Quinn to the front office, the future for amateur MMA looks bright. Every fighter starts at the amateur level. It’s important to groom these fighters early. With more teams to come, will we see new states represented in season 4 this year? Will your state be represented? What would your “starting 7” be for your stating from 125lbs to 205lbs? Make sure to check out the EAFL website here and if you would like to check out videos on the site and the EAFL podcast, click here. In conclusion, hopefully we can see the continued growth of EAFL into a massive stage for national amateur competition.
I am a life-long MMA fan who has been a fan since UFC 1. I was born in Illinois but raised in South Louisiana, home of many great mixed martial artists. I started martial arts at the age of 4 and continued into my adult years where I served nearly 10 years in law enforcement. I feel my job is to convey the stories of the MMA fighters we enjoy to watch and share their stories with the world.
Follow me on Twitter @LAknockoutMMA