Stan Burrell, better known as old school rapper MC Hammer, is making a comeback as a mixed-martial arts sports manager – and he’s leaving the baggy pants behind.

Burrell, and partners Lex McMahon and Nima Safapour, have launched L.A.-based Alchemist Management with a group of clients that include contenders for UFC and Strikeforce championships.

“Hammer and I saw a void in the marketplace for a full-service management company,” said Lex McMahon, president of Alchemist. “We want to provide traditional management services, but also help fighters cross over into mainstream entertainment and branding opportunities.”

Alchemist, which has the backing of undisclosed private investors, has jumped into an industry that is far more mom and pop than its sister sport of boxing. The idea is to trade on Burrell’s stage name to build bridges to the entertainment industry so that fighters can get endorsement, movie and television deals.

Burrell gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s as a pioneering rapper. He had huge hit singles such as “U Can’t Touch This” and “Too Legit Too Quit,” making more than $100 million before notoriously filing for bankruptcy in 1996.

Since then, the rapper has reinvented himself as an expert in social media, and its applications in the entertainment and sports industry. He’s makes the rounds on the speaker circuit and currently has nearly 2 million Twitter followers. He also has a history of managing fighters, including heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Alchemist is already managing more than 20 athletes –including UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt and Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy – many of whom were brought into the fold by McMahon, an experienced mixed-martial arts manager. It targets athletes who can have an appeal to wider audiences as actors.

However, Brad Marks, a mixed-martial arts talent manager, said the new firm may find it challenging to break its athletes into the entertainment business.

“A lot of guys are getting into the management business because it’s a popular sport right now, but if you don’t have a background in the field, you won’t know the first thing about negotiating these contracts,” said Marks, who represents mixed-martial artists Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. “Anyone can start an agency, but you need the experience to get your athletes endorsements.”

Burrell, who lives in the Bay Area, was not made available for comment.

Budding Relationship

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