Four Hawaii mixed martial arts magazines will brawl for survival
The surging popularity of mixed martial arts in Hawaii has spawned four magazines. Advertising and reader-dependent, the mags will battle for survival in the cage that is the marketplace.
The monthly MMA Hawaii debuted in May as an offshoot of mmahawaii.com, a Web site born in 2005 as an events calendar that has grown into a large online community.
It will be joined today by two new quarterly magazines, Skrap and Uproar, at the three-day MMA, Sports & Fitness Expo at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
Fight Hawaii will begin monthly distribution from Maui in September.
Each differentiates itself from the others, yet four specialty magazines in one niche causes one to wonder what the market will support.
"I like competition," said Uproar co-publisher Brittany Yap, a former Star-Bulletin intern. She developed the business plan for Uproar as a student project at Hawaii Pacific University and, with co-publisher and boyfriend Hanalei Jaber, brought it to fruition unaware there would be others.
"I'm all about the competition and let the market decide if there's room."
Uproar is a lifestyle magazine. "It's not just about the fights, it's about after the fights, before the fights, behind the scenes ... how do you become a judge, or referee -- things that people don't know and wouldn't necessarily be covered" elsewhere, she said.
Skrap was conceived five or six years ago by Alexander Nam's partners, Fili Penitani and Rich Tomas, "but nothing happened," Nam said. More recently, the three decided to "stop talking and make it happen."
They are doing everything themselves or with freelancers, learning the business by jumping in with all six feet.
It will include other fighting styles, Nam said. "We like all the disciplines and the values that they all bring."
Skrap will also explore lifestyles of the local fight community, including music, fashion and food, which expands appeal and advertising opportunities.
Maui's MMA magazine challenger will be published by husband and wife tag team Jesse and Starr Begley.
Jesse's background is in sales and marketing while Starr is interim editor of Maui Time Weekly.
They make no apologies for the violence in MMA.
"It is violent," she said. Hawaii was built on a culture of warriors and "the call for battle isn't lost in Hawaii men. They still have that need, that desire to fight and we think that MMA is a good way for them to express that."
Its mission is to recognize headlining and lesser-known local fighters, trainers, promoters and fans, to help the sport reach its potential.
The first magazine out of the gate was MMA Hawaii. It seeks to be the publication of record.
"We're the largest resource here ... we have a responsibility to get the facts correct so everyone is aware of what's going on in the MMA community," said Martin Han, marketing director.
Its Web site is dense with videos, forums, schedules and rankings.
Survival in the business is complex, veteran publishers said.
"Often, people have great ideas," said Scott Schumaker, president of the Hawaii Publishers Association and vice president and group publisher for PacificBasin Communications LLC. They have talent and passion and work hard on content, design and advertising, "but when you're creating a product you have to keep in mind who it is that's going to read it."
Advertisers are also customers and they need to be able to pay their bills, said Dave Erdman, president of PacRim Marketing Group, which represents eight publishers with 50 titles in print and online.
"Success in the media business is now contingent on publication extensions," that is, a Web site, podcasts and video, partnerships with related companies, subscription programs and more.
Schumaker expressed hope for the new magazines' survival, as long as they maintain the readership that advertisers demand.
The fight is on
The first local mixed martial arts magazine debuted in May. Two more, Skrap and Uproar, debut today at the MMA Sports & Fitness Expo at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Another, Maui-based Fight Hawaii, will launch in September.
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is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com