Ryan Kavanaugh’s Triller Elevates the Fight Game Again via Triad Combat

Ryan Kavanaugh and the team at Triller have introduced another exciting fighting event: Triad Combat. This new venture premiered on Triller Fight Club’s anniversary – November 27, 2021.

One year ago, Triller Fight Club joined the Triller universe. Triller is a music video app that lets creators choose a song snippet and record a video to it, using AI to seamlessly execute professional edits. Triller Fight Club events feature A-list music acts, such as Justin Bieber, in-between bouts, making it a perfect complement to Triller. Now comes Triad Combat. This one-of-a-kind event seeks to “level the playing field between boxing and MMA [mixed martial arts]” the company says, by combining the most thrilling aspects of both sports to the delight of fans.

To launch Triad Combat, international music icons Metallica performed. The event drew thousands of in-person fans at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and millions of viewers online and on cable TV. Nick Cannon, host of the hit TV show, “The Masked Singer,” emceed the event.

What is Triad Combat?

Triad Combat is a revolutionary, new combat team sport [that] incorporates boxing and MMA rules in an aggressive, fast-paced manner … fighters [compete] in a specially designed triangular ring over two-minute rounds,” Triller says. Featured fighters include “professional boxers competing against professional mixed martial arts fighters.” Athletes wear gloves while weaving together boxing and MMA-style fighting. 

This groundbreaking event, produced by the award-winning Nigel Lythgoe – Triller Fight Club visionary and the producer and creative force behind American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance — was designed to establish common ground between the two fighters and offer them an opportunity to compete head-to-head with neither having a greater advantage. 

To achieve this, Triad Combat has established a unique set of rules and regulations that permits fighters to throw punches; however, kicks are not allowed. Here’s a brief synopsis of what viewers can expect from all Triad Combat events:

What is allowed: 

  • Under hook (clinch)
  • Over hook (clinch)
  • Half Thai plum (clinch)
  • Waist cinch (clinch)
  • Jab (Boxing punch)
  • Cross (Boxing punch)
  • Hook (Boxing punch)
  • Uppercut (Boxing punch)
  • Bolo punch (MMA punch)
  • Spinning back fist (MMA punch)
  • Standing hammer fist (MMA punch)
  • Superman punch (MMA punch)
  • Standing on the opponent’s foot (although foot stomps are not allowed)

What is not allowed:

  • No knees, elbows, or kicks
  • Nothing over the head
  • No ground fighting, submissions, trips, takedowns, dumps, or sweeps

Ryan Kavanaugh shared, “The boxing guys have a competitive advantage, but the MMA guys have an advantage because their fingers are open … There are no kicks, but you can hold and do hammer [moves] and back fists. The holding changes the whole ball game.”

This new set of rules and the ability for an MMA fighter to compete on a level playing ground with a boxer differentiates Triad Combat from any other combat sport. 

Additionally, fighters are separated into teams. At the end of the event, one team is announced the overall winner, in addition to the individual winners. “We turned it into a team sport,” Kavanaugh says.

Inaugural Triad Combat Lineup

Kubrat Pulev “The Cobra” vs. Frank Mir

The main event featured Kubrat Pulev, a two-time boxing heavyweight world title challenger with a 28-2-0 record and 14 knockouts, and Frank Mir, two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight World Champion with a record of 19-13-0. 

Mir has been an MMA competitor for 20 years and recently tried his hand at boxing. He holds wins over Brock Lesnar, Tim Sylvia, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirco Cro Cop, and others. Pulev’s distinguished career, which started in 2009, is marked by only two losses to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. As of December 2020, he has been ranked as the world’s 10th– best active heavyweight fighter by The Ring magazine and ninth by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

Results: ​​Kubrat Pulev def. Frank Mir via TKO (punches) in Round 1, 1:59

Alexander Flores “The Great” vs. Matt Mitrione “Meathead”

The co-main event featured Alexander Flores, a professional boxer with an 18-3-1 record and 16 knockouts, and Matt Mitrione, an MMA fighter with a record of 13-9-0. 

Flores, who fights out of Rowland Heights, Calif., is one of the many notable American boxers of Mexican descent. He has competed in the heavyweight division for 11 years. Mitrione competed under the UFC banner for many years. He made his professional debut in 2009, stopping Marcus Jones, and has defeated notable opponents such as Derrick Lewis, Fedor Emelianenko, Gabriel Gonzaga, and others. 

Results: Alexander Flores def. Matt Mitrione via unanimous decision (68-64, 67-65, 68-64)

Mike Perry “Platinum” vs. Michael Seals

In a third match, Michael Seals, a boxing champion with a record of 25-3-0, battled it out with MMA fighter and former UFC superstar Mike Perry, whose record is 14-8-0. 

Perry competed in the UFC for five years, picking up wins over Paul Felder, Jake Ellenberger, and Alex Oliveira, among others. He is currently under contract with BKFC but can fight outside of bare-knuckle boxing competitions. Born in Mobile, Ala., Seals has fought for 12 years and currently competes in the light heavyweight division. His last fight was in August when he defeated Jose Antonio Abreu in a TKO.

Results: Mike Perry def. Michael Seals via split decision (65-67, 67-65, 67-65)

Metallica Concert 

Aligning with its initial platform, Triller Triad Combat also featured a Metallica concert and other surprise experiences. Celebrity guests who attended and appeared at past Triller events include singer Justin Bieber and Saturday Night Live star and comedian Pete Davidson.

Ryan Kavanaugh stated, “[We] make sure that the way [we’re] constructing the show is that it’s a show, not just a fight … We do that by bringing in very relevant artists and people and making it fun.”

Viewing Triller Events

Triller Fight Club’s first event a year ago sold more than 3 million pay-per-views, making it one of the top-selling combat sports/entertainment platforms. The company expects a similar level of engagement for Triad Combat events in the future.

Tickets to watch the fights live are on sale at and Prices range from $50 to $300.

Triad Combat also aired on pay-per-view (PPV) via FITE and iNDemand for $19.99. The event was carried in North America across all PPV platforms, including cable, satellite, telco, and streaming. 

Lastly, viewers from around the world watched on FITE.TV and all FITE mobile, smart TV, IPTV, game controller, and OTT apps, as well as the event microsite hub, TrillerFightClub.

The Journey: Triller to Triller Fight Night to Triad Combat 

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ryan Kavanaugh garnered joint control of Triller in 2019, along with partner Bobby Sarnevesht, as part of a $28 million capital infusion that valued the company at $130 million. At the time, it was the web’s second-largest digital entertainment and music platform, hosting 26 million users. In July 2020, then-President Donald Trump announced he would ban Triller’s competitor TikTok due to concerns about what its Chinese parent company does with user information. By the next day, Triller took off. Kavanaugh reports, “I woke up and we were the number one [most downloaded] app in 51 countries.”

Then, in November 2020, along with co-owner Snoop Dog, Triller introduced Triller Fight Club. This series of events was established as a new boxing league with an innovative twist. Leveraging social media, digital entertainment, and performances, Ryan Kavanaugh and Snoop Dog created a new sporting event design for a 21st-century audience. 

The first fight was hosted in November 2020. It featured an exhibition match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. and a fight between NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson and YouTuber Jake Paul, as well as musical performances by Lil Wayne, French Montana and Wiz Khalifa. Since then, Triller has hosted fights between boxing champion Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz, and David Haye and Joe Fournier and others.

Now, as a leading voice in the evolution and innovation of the fighting industry, Kavanaugh is rolling out Triad Combat to excite the next generation of sports fans. 

Elevating the Fighting Industry, Once Again

Kavanaugh’s innovative approach to boxing is elevating the fighting industry. He is engaging audiences in new ways, using digital platforms to leverage their interactive capability. As he explains it, he is bringing the industry to Web 3.0: “If Web 1.0 was a pop-up ad that you couldn’t get to un-pop and Web. 2.0 [was about] swiping through Instagram and having to look at ads between each picture, we think Web 3.0 is about delivering relevant content you want to watch and interact with.”

For example, Oscar Del La Hoya can elevate the fighting experience by allowing fans to interact with him directly. “If a Triller user loves boxing, that user is delivered a video of De La Hoya – a Fight Club boxer – talking about one of his upcoming bouts. During his video, De La Hoya seamlessly inserts, ‘and if you want to bet on my fight, use the [Caesars Sportsbook and Casino] app.’ [Similarly], De La Hoya can post a phone number during his video and urge users to text him, and the fighter will text back. This is a level beyond product placement or other embedded text or image-based advertising – which is regulated by platforms, such as Instagram. This method, Kavanaugh argues, takes the ads directly to the user, bypassing platforms and their restrictive rules.” He shares, “We think this way is more efficient.” 

Ryan Kavanaugh has built his career on disrupting the status quo. “The thing I’m most proud of in businesses is that I’m always told, ‘That’s impossible; that won’t work,'” he says. “We’re always fighting against an old, antiquated system controlled by a few, and always, we have shifted the system.” Triad Combat is just the most recent example among many that demonstrate Kavanaugh’s innate ability to identify the next big thing in the entertainment world. 


Article Editor

Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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