Artwork for podcast The Work in Sports Podcast - Insider Advice for Sports Careers
James Kimball, UFC Performance Institute VP of Operations – Work In Sports Podcast
14th August 2019 • The Work in Sports Podcast - Insider Advice for Sports Careers • Brian Clapp - Work in Sports
00:00:00 00:51:28

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James Kimball, VP of Operations for the UFC Performance Institute joins the Work In Sports podcast to discuss getting hired at UFC, being part of the development team behind UFC's 30,000 square foot Performance Institute and what it's like to have a leader like UFC President Dana White.Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work in Sports podcast…Every time I see a list from Forbes or some other magazine, touting the most valuable sports franchises in the world, I’m blown away. Dallas Cowboys worth 5 billionReal Madrid worth 4.2 billionEven the damn New York Knicks who haven’t won a game in 5 years and have a nutbag owner are worth 4 billion. Of course, that is hyperbole - the Knicks have won a few games. So often when these numbers are posted, the fans revolt. You see snide comments all over the place about greedy, money-grubbing owners, high ticket hear labor complaints about guaranteed contracts and health issues of former athletes.The organizations and leagues are painted as cold, manipulative monsters only out for the bottom line - dragging their athletes along, using them like cattle and then getting rid of them when they provide less value. But that is never the whole story - it’s kind of the easy story to tell. Dig a little deeper and you find that the soul of these organizations is a little more subtle than some revenue sheet. There are efforts that aren’t in the public eye organized by teams and leagues to help and support their athletes. Take the UFC for example. President Dana White recently stated that UFC was worth 7 billion dollars. That’s a jaw-dropping number. And you wonder -- how much of that goes to the athletes in one form or another, how much is done to support them?The short answer -- a lot. They have support programs for retired fighters, athlete development programs to assist the fighters outside the octagon,  and recently unveiled the UFC Performance Institute  - a $14 million, 30,000-square foot facility that serves as the world's first Mixed Martial Arts multi-disciplinary research, innovation, and performance center. This center, with its altitude chambers, nap pods, nutrition center, therapy rooms, underwater treadmills and more -- is 100% free to athletes on the UFC roster. Free.Completely focused on helping the athletes cut weight the right way, to build a solid plan for their fight needs and for their recovery. The man running this facility, and who played a major role its overall design, is James Kimball, VP of Operations for the UFC Performance Institute...and today’s guest:Questions for James Kimball, UFC Performance Institute VP of Operations1: Everyone I speak with seems to have a moment they can pinpoint where it became clear they didn’t just love sports; they knew they wanted it to be their career. What was that moment for you?2: Your first job out of college is in the NBA with the Washington Wizards in sales. We tell people all the time, the vast majority of the jobs in sports are in sales. Some love it, some hate it… where did you fit on that sales spectrum?3: You jumped around a bit after that, tennis, college recruiting for baseball, SB Nation on the content side – was this just part of the journey, or were you feeling a little lost and a little confused about what you really wanted?4: Boom. UFC in 2010 in fan experience. I’d imagine working in UFC is a little different than your other stops – how did it differ from those other environments, and were you hooked right away? 5: You’re a VP now, but back then you were an entry-level fan engagement coordinator – what was that specific experience like and what did you like most about it?6: Fan engagement, Community relations, Athlete development, now operations – how important was it for you to get in with an organization you wanted to be a part of and just growing from within? 7: I’m speaking as a fan of the UFC, but also someone lacking some knowledge – explai...