Madam Matchmaker – Helen Locura
Chances are if you are either an amateur or professional mixed martial artist in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaway tri-state area you have had a discussion with Helen Locura in some form or fashion.
Locura is the staple that brings and holds fight cards together. Anyone on the matchmaking and promotions side of the mixed martial arts business can tell you that putting on a fight card is not as easy as it sounds.
You need a good fighter relations manager and someone who knows how to talk with and understand the needs of the competitors. Maybe it is the motherly instincts instilled in her that help her keep the fighters in check or maybe it is just a true passion and understanding of the sport, but this mommy of two is getting the job done.
“I am excited to be working with Helen,” said Doug Yasinsky, President of the World Cagefighting Championships. “I have hired other matchmakers in the past, and in just a short time Helen has outworked all of them combined.”
Locura has worked with several companies in the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia markets and recently found herself employed by Yasinsky and the WCC after a mega-merger was announced earlier this summer. She had been working with Xtreme Fight Events (XFE) for several years however that came to a half when XFE merged with Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC), a promotion known for sending up quality competitors to the grandest stage in MMA, the UFC.
“When CFFC bought out XFE and didn’t secure the services of Helen, I was more than eager in taking advantage in their decision,” Yasinsky said.
“For the first time in WCC history, I feel free to concentrate on other aspects of the company, that will lead to advanced growth. I feel the hiring of Helen as GM/Matchmaker was one of the best decisions I ever made for WCC.”
Locura’s first major assignment with WCC is to put together their November 8 fight card at the Econo Lodge in Allentown, Pa., followed by the Nov. 15 show at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg. MyMMANews.com caught up with Madam Matchmaker, Helen Locura to discuss her career in the industry. You can purchase tickets for these events at http://www.wccmma.com/
MyMMANews – You are now a matchmaker for WCC, how did that come about after the XFE and CFFC merger?
Helen Locura – “I was Director of Fighter Relations at XFE for over three years. XFE was and always will be a very important part of my life. However for my growth in this industry I felt that securing the position of General Manger and Matchmaker for WCC was the correct move for me.”
MyMMANews – How long have you been matchmaking?
Helen Locura – “I initially started matchmaking for BadBoy FelKO promotions in Scottsdale AZ just over three years ago. I had always been involved with the recruitment of fighters and fighter documents at XFE. Just over a year ago I was given the opportunity to put more matches on the fight cards at Harrah’s Philly and the Sands Bethlehem.”
MyMMANews – There are not many female matchmakers in a primarily male dominated sport. How did you get involved?
Helen Locura – “A good friend I grew up with Rikki Migliarese who co-owns Balance Studios and Matrix Fights was the one who got me involved in MMA events. I had initially started as a volunteer working as an usher at the Matrix events in Philadelphia. Even at the first event I fell in love with the atmosphere of the entire event I wanted to be involved more. From there David Feldman Sr., gave me the opportunity to join XFE and over the three years gave me a great learning experience.”
ON BEING A MOTHER
MyMMANews – You are a mother of two, how do you balance work and family time, especially with an infant?
Helen Locura – “My nine-year old Dylan struggles with learning and behavioral issues which in itself is a task. However I do have the luxury of being able to work from home to be with my eight-month old Brayden and able to be very hands on with my son’s schooling. I love my job and I am very passionate about what I do so I make juggling my mommy duties and MMA work become normal everyday life. When it comes time for the event my kids get packed up and we hit the road.”
MyMMANews – What does it take to be a successful matchmaker? What type of skills, knowledge, qualities?
Helen Locura – “Patience, a lot of patience and having ADHD definitely helps. I also try to be as organized as possible especially when handling multiple fight cards at once. Matchmaking definitely is not a job for everyone. Juggling multiple types of personalities and the emotion that comes along with it from start to finish is definitely a huge part. But at the end of the day I love the end result and having the chance to work with some of the best fighters and trainers around is just another added perk, to me anyway.”
MyMMANews – What is the hardest part about being a matchmaker?
Helen Locura – “The fact that any given time a fighter can fall off a card before the event because of injury or problems with medicals. Then comes the next hardest part about matchmaking which I absolutely hate and that is telling a fighter who trained, cut weight and got all their docs in that they arent fighting.”
2 FIGHTERS ONE CUP
MyMMANews – What was one of the best moments of your career as a matchmaker? Worst? Weirdest?
Helen Locura – “I have a lot of ‘best’ moments, when fighters thank me for being great to work with or helping them get a fight. It sounds totally cheesy but I build relationships with the fighters and regardless whether they win or lose I appreciate them all and them trusting me to match them. Anytime I have to call a fighter before an event and let them know they arent fighting is the ‘worst.’ The weirdest was the probably the ‘Shared cup incident.’ Long story short an amateur fighter forget to bring a cup and getting ready to walk to cage was stopped by the commission. I had to pursuade a fighter coming out from the cage to hand the other fighter his cup to use so the fight could start.
MyMMANews – Advice for someone getting into matchmaking?
Helen Locura – “Have a lot of time available. Lots of different schedules means being available at anytime to fighters day or not. Always, remember that the fighters are the event and they all need to be treated with value.”
“I’m really excited to be apart of WCC and am looking forward to our upcoming events and the growth of the business.”