Bitcoin proponents often talk about the many benefits the decentralized currency can offer the world, and one of these attributes is bitcoin’s censorship resistance. This week news.Bitcoin.com chatted with, Firas Zahabi, a well known Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) grappling trainer from Canada who decided to use bitcoin as an incentive to promote online grappling events.
Firas Zahabi has trained many champion MMA fighters and is the founder of Tristar Gym, a grappling martial arts training center located in Quebec, Canada. The gym is well known as one of the world’s top MMA training camps, and grappling fights are very popular in the region. However, Zahabi tells us over a phone conversation that the local governments in Canada have deemed holding MMA events illegal. Grappling martial arts itself is legal in the region, but MMA events are not allowed, which gives young Canadian fighters less of an opportunity to compete and show their skills. So Zahabi decided to create online MMA events on Youtube which he calls the Pure Victory Championship and fighters compete for bitcoin prizes. Zahabi believes the act of hosting events online decentralizes the playing field and bitcoin leaves the middle man out of the equation.
Bitcoin.com (BC): Can you tell our readers about the Pure Victory Championship?
Firas Zahabi (FZ): Recently they made grappling events illegal where I’m from here in Quebec, and then they made events illegal in Ontario. Quebec is a hotbed for grappling talent, and the biggest MMA event in the world called the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) is happening soon, and two of my students are attending this year. So grappling in Quebec is really popular, but the local governments made it illegal because there was bickering back and forth between event promoters that were calling the cops on each other. They were trying to cancel each other’s events and corner the market.
Law enforcement got tired of all these calls, and now we are not allowed to have grappling events. Grappling is perfectly legal still, but holding grappling events here is illegal. Alongside this, Canada recently declared bitcoin as a commodity, and to the government, it’s not money, not a currency. So I’m not allowed to hold events and give out prize money, but we are allowed to film and upload ourselves fighting online. And now the fighters get bitcoin, and it’s kinda like them getting a free t-shirt or swag, because I am giving them a commodity as a prize for participation. We thought it was an excellent idea and the viewers can tip the fighters as well and our grapplers have been making money during an event. The grapplers are also enthusiastic about competing again in the future and the audience absolutely loves it.
It’s been all positive feedback and people are following the events. We only have four episodes so far and the fifth episode should launch next week. It’s really creating a great buzz with just four episodes.
BC: How much bitcoin have the fighters been getting?
FZ: They’ve been getting roughly $100-300 dollars in bitcoin between winnings and tips. Don’t forget that they’re getting bitcoin and that could be worth a lot in the future. This is only after one match, and when you grapple you have to pay to compete, so it helps the fighters earn. Further, these episodes could still give fighters some earnings, and after twenty videos it will create a fishnet effect. I think the fighters haven’t finished collecting and once they get more and more popular they create a bigger following, and the prizes will get bigger.
BC: What gave you the idea to include bitcoin into these events?
FZ: The politics and the government. They need to let young fighters have a place to release their energy. If these kids can’t find anything to do they will likely find some trouble and grappling is such an amazing outlet for the youth. Not only are they getting fit but they are exercising their minds, and they are building a whole community. We are a thriving community, and they just came and shut us down. Could you imagine if they made baseball events illegal? I don’t understand it, these kids need an outlet rather than being in the pool halls and the streets. Martial arts is one of the most constructive things a human being can do, especially in their youth.
So I said let’s decentralize jiu-jitsu. If we can’t have grappling events how can we monetize our skills? The middleman is just such a problem, he’s always sticking his hands in our pocket and always bullying us. So let’s decentralize our jiu-jitsu, let’s make it so the audience can see the competitors compete, pay them in cryptocurrency and remove the middleman.
So my next phase for Pure Victory Championship will be global and what I’m going to do is let fighters film their match, and if your game is good enough I will air it, and the winner will get $300 in cryptocurrency. Which is a lot for fighters just starting off, and the internet is hard to stop.
BC: Did the government give a formal explanation to why they made grappling events illegal?
FZ: No they told us if you have any more grappling events they will come and shut us down, and they have already. One major grappling event was canceled with hundreds of competitors. So what I’m hoping to do is put the power back into the competitor’s hands.
BC: Have the fighters mentioned anything about receiving cryptocurrency as a prize?
FZ: They love it, every fighter loves it. Look at the price of bitcoin right now. The guy who recently got $100 worth of BTC is pumped as it’s worth about $300-400 right now.
The world loves MMA and it’s a very popular sport and grappling enthusiasts are going to hear an awful lot about cryptocurrency this year.
What do you think about Firas Zahabi’s Pure Victory Championships? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, Bitcoin.com, Firas Zahabi’s, and Pure Victory Championship
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