The Fight For Bragging Rights: Interview with K-OZ Entertainment’s Grady Scott-Stewart

Grady Scott Stewart

Bragging Rights 6 will be the first event from, K-OZ Entertainment, since the Western Australian cage ban came into effect on March 1 this year. For K-OZ director, Grady Scott-Stewart, who has vowed to continue hosting MMA events locally with or without the cage, the setback has created extra hurdles for his job as promoter, which at the best of times is strenuous.

“It is always a lot of work to put together a fight, especially at the standard that I like to uphold for my events.  With the cage ban, it threw me for a loop I could of never expected. I wanted to make sure people would still be interested in attending a MMA event that was missing the most integral part of the show.”

Initially unsure how the fighters would react to the proposal of fighting in a ring, Grady has discovered that reluctant combatants is at least one problem that he has not had to deal with.

“Positively, we still have a lot of great fighters willing to fight inside the boxing ring for this fight, however it is not ideal.

“I was initially worried the fighters wouldn’t want to fight inside a boxing ring, but their support has been incredible and I know we will still put on a great show.”

However, support is something that Grady and the WA MMA community has not received from the minister of Sport and Recreation, Terry Waldron, or the WA Premier, Colin Barnett. Despite having outlined to them, the serious safety concerns involved with hosting MMA fights in a Boxing ring prior to March 1, the “image” of the cage continues to take precedence in their eyes. Even The WA Combat Sports Commission, whose members were appointed by the Minister for Sport and Recreation himself, openly supports the use of the fenced enclosures for MMA contests.

“They definitely understand how important safely is, since I have had a meeting with them and the safety advisors. I gave them all the information on the safety of the fighters and of the enclosure, and their reply was they were worried about more about the perception of the cage then for the safety of what it provides.”

For most people, the athlete’s safety would be the overriding factor in this situation. However, as Grady suggests, the trump card when it comes to the government, could be money.

“There needs to be more public awareness in Western Australia to how big this sport is.  We need to keep putting on events with large crowds to show the public how popular this sport is. I think this is the slow way to change it.  When the Government put on the cage ban, they were unaware that the UFC had Perth arena booked for next December, and that an average UFC show injects 20 million into the local economy.”

Until common sense prevails, there’s no doubt that this fight will be lengthy one. Having spent almost two decades in the fight game however, Grady has no plans to throw in the towel any time soon.

“No they think the issue has died.  We are not done fighting for this cause, and we will have this cage back soon. 

“I have been involved in the fight game for almost 20 years, started boxing at age 14, worked my way through amateur events, never to turn pro.  Due to a female in my life not approving of my career choice; I had to make a change.  Once she was no longer apart of my life, I came back to the sport I love, boxing. I was picked up by a local MMA fighter in Orange County to help him with his striking. From there it evolved into holding pads all over the world for UFC hall-o-famer, Ken Shamrock.  I also ran several MMA events in the states and was involved heavily in pro boxing events, working with Evander Holyfield. As a boxer I am converted now, and have realized there is more than just boxing, MMA is at the top of the food chain. I enjoy finding out who is at the top, of the top of the food chain.”

Bragging Rights 6 will see NITRO champion, Joe Muir, challenge reigning K-OZ title holder, Sam Brown, for the Light Heavyweight strap. The two men will also be locking horns for the right to face UFC veteran, Keith Jardine, at Bragging Rights 8. Jardine wont be the first UFC fighter to appear under the Bragging Rights banner. The series has also featured long time UFC fighter Kendall Grove, local Heavyweight standout Soa Palelei and Jesse Taylor, who currently holds the promotion’s Middleweight title. For Grady, the big names are what he believes will help take the promotion to the top, down under.     

“This card is staked; we have 11 bouts taking place, all filled with incredible up and coming fighters.  I have worked closely with The World Series of Fighting, and have signed Jesse Taylor to a contract with them. We have brought over Tito Ortiz for Bragging Rights 4, and we are having Rashad Evans at this upcoming fight to watch the title match against Joe Muir and Sam Brown.  We have a verbal agreement with Keith Jardine management that he will fight the winner of this fight in Sydney on Bragging Rights 8, which will catapult us once step closer to us being Australia’s number one fight promotion.”

Along with showcasing some of the best talent from around the world, Grady believes that taking care of his fighters is also key to the long term success of the brand.

“I think we will be very well known on an international level, pulling the best fighters from all over the world, and we will be one of the most coveted titles in the world. My goal is to build enough sponsors so I can pay these fighters what they are worth and not have them struggle to get by. I believe fighters will respond positively to a company that actually cares about them, and wants them to succeed in their sport.”

Bragging Rights 6 was expected to take place outside of WA for the first time, with the promotion originally revealing plans to host this title fight in Sydney. Taking the show on the road is definitely part of the big picture for Grady, but for the time being, the K-OZ front man is staying true to Perth.  

“We still plan on taking the show to Sydney and other places in Australia. I felt I had to give WA fighters an arena to compete in. Stay tuned for more fights all over the country.

Bragging Rights 6 will take place at the Kingsway Sports Centre in Perth, Western Australia, on July 27.

Grady would like to thank: I like to thank you guys first of all for writing about us and caring about this sport. Want to thank all of our sponsors, my dad, my mom, and Jesus LOL, for making this possible LOL. Really, it’s the fighters and sponsors I would like to thank most of all.

Updated Fight Card (Pro):

  • Sam Brown vs Joe Muir – Bragging Rights Light-Heavyweight Title
  • Manuel Rodriguez vs TBA *
  • Craig Martin vs Dom Harrison-Campbell
  • Will Chope vs Shantaram Maharaj

Fight Card (Amateur):

  • Mitch O’Dowd vs Luke Armstrong
  • Scott Noras vs James Christopaulos
  • Nate Jones vs Dan Jones
  • Dai Jenkins vs Hassani Soidrou
  • Luke Hammond vs Dean Abramo
  • Sean Bow vs Luke Jones
  • Andrew Anthony vs Tyler Spooner

* Alex Volkanovski has been forced out with injury.

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