WEC founder and current UFC vice president of athlete development Reed Harris has done a lot behind the scenes to help grow the sport of MMA into what it is today. In an FO exclusive, the top UFC executive looks back on his early days in the sport, discusses his current role and more.

“Over the years I ran the WEC I always had a pretty good reputation as far as taking care of the fighters,” he tells FO. “That all came from my beginnings in the sport, which was really working over at Chuck Liddell’s gym, training over there and watching how hard these guys worked.

“We are now in charge of really helping the athletes outside of fighting. Obviously Joe and Sean (Silva and Shelby, UFC matchmakers) handle the fighting aspect, but my department is involved in almost every other aspect.”

That means acting as liaison between fighters and sponsors, arranging appearances for promotional partners and organizing press tours to coincide with events that now take place in countries in every corner of the world.

“Some months we travel up to 100 fighters to different things,” Harris explains. “We have them doing promotional activities, which allows the fighters that are cutting weight to get ready for the fight. The fighters are obviously doing some promotion, but anything that’s outside of that (is done by other UFC athletes).”

Read the full interview with Reed Harris inside the March edition of Fighters Only – on sale now.