PPV Pioneer Taffet Enters MMA Space



PPV Pioneer Taffet Enters MMA Space


Team-Based League Kicks Off with Five Events in 2018 At New Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City 

“MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock” Series Debuts Friday, July 20 with Team New Jersey vs. Team Pennsylvania


Tickets on Sale This Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. ET

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (May 29, 2018) – The newest entity in MMA and professional sports is set to launch this summer. MMA Pro League, a team-based professional MMA league, will debut with five events in 2018 at the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City featuring teams of fighters from different regions of the country all leading up to the first full regular season and playoffs in 2019.

The league is the brainchild of longtime MMA promoter Hani Darwish, and former HBO Sports executive Mark Taffet, a sports television pioneerand 25-year head of HBOPPV. Darwish, who will be CEO of MMA Pro League, and Taffet, who will serve as MMA Pro League President, will look to begin a new era for the fastest-growing major sport in the U.S. with this team-based league.

“MMA Pro League is the dawn of a new era in MMA and I’m thrilled we are going to bring the fans a world-class product with teams they will love. There is no more noble pursuit in sports than fighting for your team,” said MMA Pro League CEO Hani Darwish, who has devoted his entire life to being a student, practitioner, teacher and business executive in mixed martial arts. “My passion for the sport is endless, as is my respect for and love of these athletes.”

“After delivering 190 of the world’s greatest fights to fans of HBOPPV for 25 years, I am thrilled to begin a new chapter in MMA history with the launch of MMA Pro League,” said President of MMA Pro League Mark Taffet, “Launching our first series of live fight events at the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City will create an atmosphere of excitement second to none. Our head coaches will fill their teams with great young talent who fans will connect with immediately.”

Each team in the league will be led by an iconic MMA figure beginning with Team New Jersey Coach and former UFC fighter Dan Miller of the Miller Brothers and Team Pennsylvania Coach and Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Daniel Gracie of the renowned Gracie family.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of MMA Pro League,” said Dan Miller, Team New Jersey Coach. “Both the fans and the athletes will love the team concept where every fight is critical to the outcome and fighters fight for their teams. Coaching the athletes on Team New Jersey will allow me to share my MMA expertise and experience with the next generation of great fighters while continuing to train and grow in the sport I love. I can’t wait to lead my team to the championship!”

“I can’t wait to test myself as a coach in MMA Pro League and use my knowledge to help my team to victory,” said Daniel Gracie, Team Pennsylvania Coach. “The team concept will bring out the best in the fighters, as they will give everything to support their teammates and win for their team. I will take all my experience as a fighter and all that I learned from my mentor, role model and cousin Renzo Gracie and will apply it to my team. As hard as I worked, my athletes will work even harder. The other team better be prepared, because my team is coming to win!”

The MMA Pro League’s first installment of the “MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock” live fight series at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City will take place Friday, July 20 with Team New Jersey taking on Team Pennsylvania. More teams from additional regions in the U.S will be announced across the five “MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock” events in 2018, leading up to the eight-team regular season and playoffs in 2019.

Tickets for the July 20 event at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City will go on sale Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. ET and will be available at

“We are very excited to be chosen as the host venue for the inaugural events of the MMA Pro League,” said Bernie Dillon, Vice President of Entertainment for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. “Working alongside two highly respected industry veterans like Mark and Hani convinced us to jump at the chance to be involved.  We look forward to many more MMA Pro League events at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.”

Darwish, the former President and CEO of Extreme Fighting Championship, has promoted a number of MMA fighters and successful MMA events in the northeast U.S. Hani was also the President of Knockout Promotions, managing world champion fighters and promoting boxing events since 2003. As a mixed martial arts athlete himself, Hani also earned the sport’s most distinguished honor – a black belt — from the iconic Renzo Gracie.

Taffet is best-known for his work at HBO from 1991 – 2015 as the pioneer of the boxing PPV-TV medium in the United States. As founder and head of HBOPPV, Taffet presented 190 PPV events which generated $3.6 billion in revenue and over 65 million PPV buys including the biggest PPV event of all time: Mayweather vs Pacquiao. He was elected to the prestigious New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015, was one of CableFax Magazine’s “Top 100 Heavy Hitters In Cable”, was selected by Boxing Digest Magazine as “Boxing’s #1 Most Influential Figure” in 2002, and is a regular member of “Boxing’s Top 25 Most Influential” list.

More information on the MMA Pro League and the “MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock” series will be announced in the near future.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.