ONE Championship’s Stergos Mikkios Recounts Graphic Tale and Reason for Self Management
Stergos Mikkios is a ONE Championship fighter. He’s explosive, exciting and always gives his heart in the cage. You can even read our past write up on him, where you can get to know him a little bit more. But, before he was in ONE Championship, he didn’t have things so easy. Mikkios details a wild and crazy story that involves back stabbing, being taken advantage of by managers, and even being held up at gun point. Here is what many, many fighters have to go through when they’re coming up through the MMA scene.
“I was in the US. That’s where i started mixed martial arts, fighting and where my career lead. I had to leave because I wouldn’t get anymore out of the United States. I wasn’t getting the attention I needed. Somebody introduced me to this Thai coach and I fell in love with it. I was just doing Thai.
I got a couple fights as i told you and I ended up back in Thailand to see where my career could go because I wanted to take my career more serious. Representing Greece in Thailand, top ten world series, no other greek has ever stepped in there in those big thailand promotions. I was really promoting my country. I was getting no help from anyone.”
Mikkios then moved on and got a manager. While it appeared to be a good thing, it wasn’t what it seemed. It wasn’t long before his manager started going back on promises he made to simply sign Stergos and things would only get worse
“I get in contact with this guy and he’s a so called manager. he managed a couple Greek fighters. i asked some people, and he sorta of the one of the “biggest names in Greece” for promoting. I was like this is good, he’s getting in contact with me. I’m trying to take my career to the next level with this guy. I was excited because I can go back to Greece from Thailand because I miss Greece, it’s my home country. its been over 9 years since I’ve been to my home country. it was a chance for me to live my dream and go back to my roots.
He was like “‘ey man, I see you, you’re doing great, I would love to get you on my team.’ He has “big name fighters.” He does manage one of the biggest fighters in Sreece. So i got excited that he has this fighter. I think he can really put me out there. I can follow my dream.”
He told me, ‘I’m going to get you to Greece. You’re going to live in Athens. I’m going to find you an apartment. I’m going to book your fights and I’m going to manage you. All I want is 20%. I’m going to give you somewhere to live. You’re going to get your sponsorship food prep, your sponsors, we’re going big. I just want to make heroes.’ That’s what he says, remember that.”
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I just want to make heroes.
This is where Stergos started to notice something was awry. The manager, who is nameless throughout the story, never followed through on promises he told Mikkios, he started the path down what would be a painful road.
“So, I did my last fight around June. I was planning on leaving for Greece. With my bad luck, I missed my flight. I couldn’t fly. I had no money. Since I have no relationship with my family, I represent myself. So I couldn’t get any money. So I talk to my manager and I tell him, ‘I need some money for a ticket. I can’t buy a ticket.’ He’s like, ‘Okay, don’t worry. We will take care of it. We can do a deal with your next fights and you can pay it off.’ I tell him, ‘Thanks man, so much.’ He did one good thing, this one good thing. That’s it. This one fucking thing.
So he paid for my ticket and I went to Greece, I went back to my islands and stayed there for a month or two. It was the summer and around that time, nobody really trains. Nobody has fights. You’re talking about August to September. That’s why you see no Greek fighter make it big. They don’t take it serious. I had to wait until October. I was like, ‘Hey man, I’m in Greece. Are we gonna do something or what? I’m not here to have a vacation.”
So he’s like, ‘Okay man, come in October to Athens. I worked in a restaurant and saved some money just to go to Athens. So remember all the things he promised me. I lived in his girlfriend’s apartment with him for about a week or two. He’s like, ‘We’re looking for your apartment. You got to pay for it, you got to get a job.’ He went back on everything he promised. I didn’t say it but I thought, ‘You motherfucker, you promised me this shit.’
Nothing as it seems
“So there is this camp that that he put me in. They’re night people. They work at clubs and work the doors and they have big bum fat losers that protect other people. This coach has ready fighters. The fighters are desperate of money because he makes his fighters like that so they can obey him. He sends them there to train. My experience there lost what I had in Thailand. The pads were the same combonation for the whole round. It was just 1-2 low kick, 1-2-3 body kick. It was not much more than fundamental techniques. They just don’t know anything about the fighting world.
So, I took two steps back from when I was in Thailand. I have to make up for that now, and make my self a little better that what I was. I had a fight scheduled in June and he was like, ‘We have a lot of work to do.’ But nobody was there with me, I trained by myself, nobody held pads. Then the gyms were closed. They didn’t care.
I moved out of his apartment after two weeks of staying with him. He couldn’t find me anything, where to go, where to work, where to stay. One kid at the gym let me stay with him. I was making some money privately which was barely enough to buy SOME groceries. Stuff like cooking at the house for this kid. I was helping out. I was training, but it wasn’t the quality training I needed. After two to three months they tell me I can fights. I struggled for four months to get one fucking fights. It was a guy much bigger than me, a Romanian. I cut him on the eye bow in the fourth round and I ended up making $500. Then, I gave $100 to the manager, then another $100 for the air port. I had $300 in my pocket.”
Getting back on his feet
We often hear of stories of stars hitting rock bottom, then rising like the phoenix from the ashes stronger than before. While the movies spend a little time fleshing this out, it always is a little off. It never really gets down to the nitty gritty, and we know our hero will be fine. But, being in that moment, things can get real dark. Very dark.
“I ended up getting kicked out from the other kid in Athens after I got back. I got really turned off from this manager. Then he started telling me, ‘You owe me money.’ I told him I know I owed him money, but we said we were going to pay back from the fights. This $300 is my money to survive. I need it to survive. I had nowhere to stay and nothing to eat. You promised me all this and you didn’t do nothing.
I told him, ‘If you want to get your money, book me a fight. Book me a fight, and I pay you off. I have no problem paying you back. Book me a fight.’ He says, ‘You motherfucker, you want me to work for my money?’ This is your job. You’re my manager, aren’t you supposed to book me a fight? What is so hard to send emails to promotions? I can do it myself.”
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“So this manager didn’t like getting fights for Stergos Mikkios or something. He had debt to pay, but was promised to be able to just train and focus on fighting. Instead of booking Mikkios as many gigs as he could, he simply waited. Mikkios was used to fighting once or twice a month in Thailand. In Greece, sitting around waiting for months to pass drove him crazy.”
“So we decided we’re not going to work together so I started looking at other coaches. I found a coach/manager had a fighter that fought for Bellator. So I went to work for him. He said, ‘I need you to be here for six months and train. I can’t just put you in there yet.’ I told him ‘I’m in a bad spot, I really need money, someone who is going to promote me and put in the effort into my career. I’m just need someone to progress me.’ So he tells me to come start, I need to be in Athens for six months. I didn’t have that luxury, I had little money. I had less than 200 euro. But I still kept my head high.”
So he went back to the coach and told him everything about the first coach not promising me this and that. So the first coach messaged me and I messaged him back. I thanked him for trying for me. I have something from the new manager I have to live in the gym. He was like, ‘Yeah no problem man. Come by the gym at 8 o’clock back at the gym and sorta say goodbye to everyone and we can talk a little bit.”
So I go around that time and he’s not there. I message him and he’s like, ‘Oh I forgot man, I’m so burned. I’m home right now. I’m resting.’ They set this trap up for me. So, when I messaged the coach, the other guy messaged him telling him he’s here. When I go to the gym, these guys pop in by the elevator doorway. It was three dudes, the managers and two of the body guards, wearing half masks. One guy pointed a fucking gun at me. They held me and the manager punched the fuck out of me and cut my lip. He was cursing me out, ‘You piece of shit, you fuckin’ went out and say the things to this motherfucker and you think I wouldn’t find out? How fucking dare you? I tried to help you out.’
He tried to video tape me and said ‘Say you’re my bitch and I’ll let you go.’ I said, ‘I’m not saying no fucking thing.’ You can keep punching me. You can keep punching me. I looked him straight in the face. His hand was hurting and I had blood everywhere. They quit and they said, ‘This is what you get. You don’t respect anything. I put you in my house. I helped you out. You piece of shit.’ I told him we said I was going to pay you off with another fight. He knew I had no money.
The rebound seems hard
After going through something like that, most people would simply give up. While Mikkios had his moments of doubt, he pulled through and landed a gig bigger than he’s ever had. ONE Championship. While he was on the highest point of his career, he was still harassed.
“So I go back to my islands in Greece. I’m working as a construction worker. I had no gym anymore. No one to trust. I ended up stopping fighting and stopped training. I got really turned off with the sport in Greece. My dream was to work with Greeks, my brotherhood. That’s what I wanted to do because I’m a patriotic motherfucker. They’re not this kind of people. They’re greedy.
He keeps sending me messages while I’m working construction. ‘I’m going to beat the fuck out of you. You’re not going to make it out alive, you can’t go anywhere.’ He threatened my life, messaging my phone. The money I owed him was less than $400. After beating me up, he still wanted his $400. I told him he wasn’t getting shit and that he was lucky I didn’t go to the police station and press charges on him.
He kept harassing me. They were posting things online about me. Called me a thief. They said I would steal stuff and that I was a piece of shit. But I never said anything to anyone about what they did. I never bad mouthed them.”
The beginning of a happy ending
“So now, I have a chance of ONE Championship. I sent a message to the president and said I was a Muay Thai fighter. They gave me a chance. I went to another coach, I had a short camp. I paid him 300 euros to train him. Trainers in Greece don’t do shit without money. It’s all about making money. It’s not about progressing fighters.
They own you, man. You have to ask permission on everything. ‘Coach can I do this? Coach can I do that?’ There’s no cross training, you can’t do your sponsors without talking to your coach, you can’t book a fight, nothing. As American raised, I’m more open minded and they look at me weird. I talk. I do things different. They don’t like that.
That’s why I’m making the decision to move out and self manage. There’s no future in Greece.”
Stergos Mikkios was taken advantage of by his manager and because he knew it, he was beaten, humiliated, and held at gun point. Mikkios is assuredly not the only fighter to go through this. In all walks of life, there are predatory people out there looking to take advantage of the uninformed. Mikkios hopes that his story will expose this to fighters and better educate the young athletes so they don’t have to go through what he had to.
Thank you for reading. Please, follow Stergos Mikkios on Instagram.