Who Are the UFC Matchmakers? | Explained

The UFC Matchmakers have by far, the toughest jobs in the entire UFC.

In this page, we will explain what exactly they do, and who the UFC Matchmakers are.

Table of Contents

Who Are the UFC Matchmakers?

The UFC Matchmakers are primarily two people, Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard. You'll often hear fighters mention these two names in interviews, however they primarily stay away from the spotlight.

ufc matchmaking

Although they don't do many interviews over the years, they are essentially the 'backbone' of the UFC.

There has also been one other matchmaker known as Joe Silva, who worked for the UFC for many years, but ended up retiring after the sale of the UFC in 2016.

Weight Classes Split Up By Two Matchmakers

Each of the UFC matchmakers are in charge of specific weight classes, in order to prevent fighters & managers from going around the other matchmaker to gain an advantage.

Additionally, it provides a clear line of communication, as everyone knows who they have to talk to in order to have certain discussions, and the matchmakers know exactly what's happening in their divisions.

Below we'll cover all three of the matchmakers, how they got their start into this job, and what they're known for.

Sean Shelby

In Charge of the Following Weight Classes

Matchmaker for the following divisions:

  • Women's Strawweight
  • Women's Bantamweight
  • Men's Bantamweight
  • Women's Featherweight
  • Men's Featherweight
  • Lightweight
  • Welterweight

About Shelby's Career

Shelby is the Senior VP of Talent Relations and a UFC Matchmaker.

Sean Shelby got his start in the Mixed Martial Arts world by working in the International Fighting Championships (IFC) in California.

Shelby would most notably promote an event called 'Shogun', where MMA legend Shogun Rua would be fighting early on in his career.

Eventually Shelby would move on and be hired as a matchmaker by the World Extreme Cagefighting organization (WEC).

He would connect with longtime matchmaker Joe Silva and have several discussions, leading Silva to realize that he was "a sharp guy who could do this job".

In 2006, the UFC purchased World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), and Shelby would be absorbed as well.

Mick Maynard

In Charge of the Following Weight Classes

Matchmaker for the following divisions:

  • Men's Flyweight
  • Middleweight
  • Light Heavyweight
  • Heavyweight

About Maynard's Career

Maynard is the Vice-President of Talent Relations for the UFC, who is also a matchmaker for the organization alongside Sean Shelby.

He is best known for the reconstructing and rebuilding of the flyweight division, which was nearly dropped by the UFC at one point in time.

Maynard got his start with Legacy Fighting Alliance (Legacy FC), and would spend 10 years as the owner and operator in the MMA industry, most notably as a promoter.

Legacy FC would be known for grooming MMA talent from smaller promotions, and getting them ready for the bigger leagues such as the UFC.

Some of the most notable fighters to come from this organization include:

  • Henry Cejudo
  • Valentina Shevchenkno
  • Holly Holm
  • Sage Northcutt

In 2016, after the retirement of Joe Silva, the UFC would hire Maynard, after he helped broker a merger between Legacy FC and RFA.

Joe Silva

Joe Silva is best known for being a huge factor in developing/creating talent and weight classes, as well as arranging exciting fights from the very beginning of the UFC days.

Silva's background is very interesting as he was actually a manager for a software retailer, that loved martial arts.

He would go on to say that he really didn't care what he did, as long as he could do martial arts with his friends.

Silva loved watching the UFC in its early days, but saw major problems that could affect them in the future.

Due to this, he actually ended up calling them and giving them advice. Silva would say:

“I didn’t think I’d get a job out of it or anything. I just said, ‘Hey, I love this [stuff], but here’s the problems you’re going to have.'”

They would ironically end up listening to him, and bring him on as an unofficial adviser.

Silva would eventually go into the UFC full-time, however he would end up going into debt, as back in those days they didn't pay much.

Silva would stay with the UFC until his retirement in 2016.

What Do the UFC Matchmakers Do?

Although making fights is what many fans believe is the only thing that matchmakers do, they have a huge list of responsibilities.

  • Create matchups for fights for all UFC events
  • Deal directly with managers to negotiate contracts and fights
  • Develop the division
  • Create Contenders
    • Find the best unsigned fighters for Dana White's Contender Series
    • Sign fighters
    • Fire fighters
  • Dealing with fighters pulling out of fights due to injury and finding replacement fighters
  • On the phone 24/7 with managers/fighters

Fighters are humans which means they have emotions, and are susceptible to injuries.

UFC matchmakers deal with both of those factors on a daily basis, as they have to get two fighters to sign for a fight, negotiate their contracts, and if a fighter pulls out due to injury, they have to find a replacement fighter.

Fighters Pulling Out of Fights

In my opinion this is the hardest aspect of their job, as they've spent a tremendous amount of time creating fights, and working with the UFC to promote these fights.

If the fighter pulls out, the matchmakers have to figure out who can be the replacement fighter.

They can't pull a fighter from a future card, to save the current card, as that would just create a never-ending 'domino' effect of problems.

On the other hand, they can't just tell the fighter whose opponent pulled out that they can't get them a fight, as they know that the fighter spent time and money on training camps, coaches and nutrition.

They have to find a replacement fighter who 'makes sense', as signing someone from the street simply to fill a void, wouldn't make sense for the fighter, and in terms of growing and advancing the division.

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